Azimio MPs, Cherera Four Lawyers Walk Out Of Proceedings

The streak of arguments saw Junet move a motion for...

Azimio MPs, Cherera Four Lawyers Walk Out Of Proceedings
Junet Mohamed speaking during the hearing of petitions seeking the removal from office of Juliana Cherera and three other IEBC commissioners on November 24, 2022. /CITIZEN TV

UPDATE: Azimio La Umoja MPs led by Minority Leader Junet Mohammed and IEBC Commissioners' lawyers have rejected proceedings before Justice and Legal Affairs Committee.

Consequently, they have also left County Hall in protest against Kenya Kwanza committee members.

JLAC committee chair, Tharaka MP George Murugara directed the committee to proceed with the hearing of the four IEBC commissioners' petition hearing after they walked out.

"We do have a quorum to proceed. Our standing orders provide quorum to be five and we are six," he stated.

Suna East MP, Junet Mohamed, was less than pleased towards the National Assembly's Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) as he led Azimo La Umoja MPs in causing chaos on Thursday, November 24.

The lawmakers are allied to Raila Odinga who was in attendance for the proceedings alongside Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka which seek to have four Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) commissioners - including Juliana Cherera, Irene Masit, Francis Wanderi and Justus Nyang'aya, removed from office.

Junet raised preliminary objections noting that it was illegal for the committee to discuss a matter that was already in court.

"The issues that have been raised by the lawyers representing the respondents are very heavy matters.

"What can be done in private can be harmful to the public, let’s do our meeting in public. We are in a hurry to score political points but this is a political process," he said.

Lawyer Danstan Omari- who is representing Cherera and the trio, raised legal issues of the proceedings, calling upon JLAC not to set up a tribunal to throw her out as she is expected to take over from IEBC chairperson, Wafula Chebukati.

"We urge this committee not to fall into the political trap to set a tribunal to remove the Vice Chair because she is expected to take over from the current chair. This JLAC is holding this country at ransom and their decision may result in a constitutional crisis," he said.

Ruaraka MP TJ Kajwang had asked the chairman to call off the hearing until all pending preliminary objections are determined and ruled on, noting that "This process will be illegal if there is no fair hearing accorded to the accused persons."

The streak of arguments saw Junet move a motion for the adjournment of the committee proceedings with the committee since taking a break to discuss preliminary objections by commissioners' lawyers.

"I wrote a letter to Speaker Wetangua, but as of now, I have not received any official response. I raised constitutional issues and defiance of standing orders. I have objected to some of the rules set by this committee," Junet stated.

Lawyer Jotham Arwa came to the defence of Nyang'aya, arguing that "you can’t call someone to come and defend himself of proceedings he barely understands, Mr Justus Nyang’aya is an example."

Odinga attended the proceedings after he cancelled a presser aimed at discussing the petitions against the four to allow the Parliament to carry out its constitutional mandate.

“To allow other processes currently underway with regard to the summons to IEBC commissioners to proceed without prejudice, Raila Odinga will not address the subject as earlier announced. Our apologies for the cancellation,” Odinga’s communications director Dennis Onyango released a statement on November 23, 2022.

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Secretary General Edwin Sifuna dashed the hopes of having the four IEBC commissioners spared from the axe, saying he does not expect JLAC to drop charges levelled against them.

“It is a political witch-hunt but because the Kenya Kwanza team is the majority, I do not expect any objectivity.

“They are on a vendetta mission and armed with numbers to pass anything through, Cherera and other 3 commissioners cannot survive,” he expressed.

The JLAC committee is chaired by Tharaka member of parliament Murugara George Gitonga. The 15-member committee is composed of 7 from Azimio and 3 from the Jubilee party, despite the cracks between Jubilee and ODM within the coalition.

The four were accused of gross violation of the Constitution and a breach of their oath of office, which makes their status, according to them, illegal to hold office. They were prominent for denying the presidential election results on Monday, August 15 as announced by IEBC chair Wafula Chebukati.

Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka in Parliament for the hearing of petitions seeking the removal from office of Juliana Cherera and three other IEBC commissioners on November 24, 2022. /VIRALTEAKE