President Uhuru Kenyatta has suspended Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission chairperson Mumo Matemu and vice-chairperson Irene Keino (above) from office.
State House spokesperson Manoah Esipisu said in a statement the two would remain out of office pending investigation by a tribunal to be formed by President Kenyatta.
“They are suspended from undertaking all functions and duties of those offices with immediate effect pending the outcome of the tribunal, which will be set up in accordance with the law,” he said.
The move comes after the National Assembly on Thursday approved recommendations by the Justice and Legal Affairs committee to have the two probed.
“This process in no way hinders the work of the organisation which remains constitutionally established and operational,” Esipisu emphasised.
The parliamentary committee noted that the disharmony and mistrust among commissioners and with the secretariat meant the EACC was dysfunctional and there must be a new beginning.
The two are also accused of incompetence and abuse of office.
Once President Kenyatta forms a tribunal, it will be required to report its recommendations within 30 days.
The president is now set to appoint a tribunal to probe the removal of the two.
The Justice and Legal Affairs committee said in its report that it had found sufficient grounds for setting up of a tribunal to look into a petition seeking the removal of the two for incompetence and abuse of office.
The committee noted that the disharmony and mistrust among commissioners and with the secretariat meant the EACC was dysfunctional and there must be a new beginning.
There were 124 members in support of the report and 50 against with only three members abstaining from the vote. There were 180 members present in the House.
Upon receiving the House resolution on the petition, President Kenyatta will be required to suspend the two pending the outcome of the tribunal which should report its recommendations within 30 days.
Article 251 of the Constitution states: “A person suspended is entitled to continue to receive one-half of the remuneration and benefits of the office while suspended.”
The law provides that the tribunal should be headed by a person who is fit to hold the position of a superior court, two persons qualified to be appointed as High Court judges and one other member who is qualified to assess the facts in respect of the particular ground for removal.
Makueni MP Daniel Maanzo and Homa Bay Town MP Peter Kaluma successfully moved the House to support an amendment to compel the EACC to complete investigations into the ownership of Integrity Centre within two weeks.
Maanzo’s amendment is to halt the transmission of the House resolution to the President until the EACC submits its report to the House.
Kaluma and Ruaraka MP T.J Kajwang had earlier persuaded the House that the petition was being used as a smoke screen to divert investigations from revealing the entity which had been collecting the rent for EACC.
“The public knows that Integrity Centre is gone, it has been gobbled by somebody, the building which was put under the protection of depositors of the collapsed trade bank is gone to somebody and his wife, for a song that there is no money that was given to the Deposit Protection Fund,” Kajwang stated.
Mithika Linturi who was among the Jubilee Coalition MPs who supported the amendment said it is crucial that Kenyans be told the truth about who owns the building which was initially owned by the Deposit Protection Fund.
Kajwang later lost his bid to have EACC chief executive Halakhe Waqo included in the list of officials at the anti-graft agency to be removed from office.
This came after House Majority Leader Aden Duale led the Jubilee Coalition MPs to force the House to vote electronically after the CORD side won the acclamation vote.
The Jubilee Coalition side turned the tables in the electronic vote clocking 103 votes against 72 to defeat the amendment while three members abstained.
Igembe South MP Linturi seconded the amendment saying the committee report had pointed out that Waqo was key to the wrangles at the Commission.
He cited the preparation of a confidential dossier which was presented to President Kenyatta as an indication that the EACC chief executive is a poor team player and a sign of insubordination to the commission’s objectives.
Intrigues over the fate of Matemu and Keino in the committee emerged on Tuesday after two members were involved in a heated exchange on whether to dismiss or adopt the petition seeking their removal from office.
Nairobi lawyer Oriaro Geoffrey kicked off the process by petitioning the National Assembly with claims that the chairman and the commissioner are in “serious violation of the Constitution, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission Act, the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act as well as the Penal Code”