Cherera 4: Tribunal recommends Irene Masit be removed from office

Cherera 4: Tribunal recommends Irene Masit be removed from office

Suspended IEBC Commissioner Irene Masit. Photo/FILE

The tribunal formed to consider the petition for removal of Juliana Cherera, Francis Wanderi, Irene Masit and Justus Nyang’aya from office as members of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has recommended that Masit be ousted.

The hearing of petitions ended last Monday, February 20, after the counsels representing both parties made their final submissions.

In its report to President William Ruto on Monday, the Justice Aggrey Mucheule-led tribunal said the allegations of gross misconduct levelled against Commissioner Masit were proved to the required standard.

“Having considered all the evidence tendered, the Tribunal finds that the allegations on serious violation of the constitution and the law... against Commissioner Irene Masit have been proved to the required standard,” the tribunal said.

“Now therefore, this Tribunal recommends to Your Excellency, the President of the Republic of Kenya and Commander in Chief of the Defence Forces, pursuant to the mandate assigned vide Gazette Notice No. 14890 of 2nd December 2022, and further in accordance and in compliance with Article 251(1) and (6) that Commissioner Irene Cherop Masit be removed from office as a member of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.”

Similarly, the tribunal said the concerns of serious violations of the Constitution during electoral period against the four commissioners had been proven.

“The actions by the Commissioners to proceed to Serena to issue the presser to disown the result that she had participated in tallying and verifying were intended to undermine and erode public trust in the commission and to the result. In our considered view, these actions amounted to gross misconduct,” the tribunal said.

‘Opaque’ results

Cherera – the former IEBC Vice-chair – together with Wanderi, Masit and Nyang’aya disputed the presidential election results declared by the IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati on August 15, citing “opaqueness” in the manner they were arrived at.

After the Supreme Court later upheld the elections, petitions were filed challenging their suitability to hold office.

And although the probe was initially targeting all four commissioners now labelled the ‘Cherera four’, Masit’s colleagues all resigned before the hearings started, leaving her to face the tribunal.

According to the Mucheule-led panel, Masit, who has been suspended from the commission pending determination of the petitions, agreed to a proposal by Raila Odinga’s Azimio La Umoja-One Kenya coalition agents to moderate the presidential election results and force a re-run.

“The Commissioner agreed with the request by the delegation that they needed to interfere with the result by either declaring Baba as the winner or in the alternative they be moderated to allow for a rerun. They threatened that if that was not done the country would be plunged into chaos,” reads the report.

“The actions by Commissioner Irene Masit clearly show that she was amenable to improper influence and that she could not be trusted to be an impartial and neutral arbiter. Once again, she was guilty of gross misconduct,” the tribunal adds.

Hearings commenced on December 2022 and the presentation of witness testimonies lapsed on January 24, with former IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati testifying last.

Chebukati alongside commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu all lined up to testify against Masit.

Recruitment of new IEBC commissioners

President Ruto has in the meantime declared vacancies at the electoral body, paving the way for the recruitment of new commissioners to kick off.

Ruto in a Gazette Notice dated February 14 declared six out of seven positions open pending the hearing and determination of Masit’s case.

Last month, the head of state signed the IEBC (Amendment) Bill 2022 into law setting the stage for the formation of a seven-member selection panel to recruit the new commissioners.

The Selection Panel will feature representatives of the Parliamentary Service Commission, the Public Service Commission (PSC), the Political Parties Liaison Committee (PPLC), the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), and the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya.

The Bill passed saw the Parliamentary Service Commission and the Inter-religious Council of Kenya allocated two members (a man and a woman) each while the PSC, PPLC and LSK had one member nominated to the panel.


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