Omtatah in court to stop Clerk hiring

Thursday, July 14th, 2022 09:58 | By
Activist Okiya Omtatah. PHOTO/Courtesy
Activist Okiya Omtatah. PHOTO/Courtesy

An activist has moved to court seeking to stop the hiring of a new Clerk of the National Assembly as details emerge over the cancellation of a Special Sitting by MPs yesterday.

In an urgent application filed before High Court in Nairobi, Okiya Omtatah wants the court to stop the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) and the National Assembly of the 12th Parliament appointing the Clerk of the National Assembly of the 13th Parliament.

“The court be pleased to issue a temporary order of prohibition restraining the respondents PSC and National Assembly, whether by themselves, or any of their employees or agents or any person claiming to act under their authority, from proceeding to give effect howsoever to the outcome of any interviews held by the PSC in the ongoing recruitment of the Clerk of the National Assembly pending the inter-parte hearing and determination of this Application and or Petition,” Omtatah seeks.

The activist also wants the court to issue a temporary order prohibiting the National Assembly from approving any person appointed as Clerk of the National Assembly in the ongoing recruitment.

Omtatah moved to court on a day it emerged that MPs allied to President Uhuru Kenyatta and Azimio Presidential candidate Raila Odinga moved to scuttle the planned special sitting after learning that their colleagues associated with Deputy President William Ruto had planned to move a motion to appoint a new clerk to replace Michael Sialai who has retired.

“There is no way we were going to be part of an illegality. We became aware of the scheme to sneak in the name of a person of their choice and that is why we had even advised our members not to attend the session,” ODM chairman and Minority Leader in the National Assembly John Mbadi told the People Daily last evening.

Sources said it was the President Uhuru/Raila axis that made sure that the gazette notice was not printed on time by the Government Printer as required by the law in order to scuttle the process.

MPs who spoke to the People Daily claimed that fears emerged within their camp over alleged scheme by the Ruto allies to take control of the National Assembly through the clerk who would have been installed yesterday.

The latest stand off over the appointment of the clerk comes barely three months after Ugenya MP David Ochieng’ had claimed that a particular candidate ‘had bought all members’ of the PSC and had been bragging to other staff that he will bag the job.

“Many members of staff who applied for the job have asked me what they should do because there’s a person who has bought all commissioners, including you, Mr Speaker,” the MP had told the House on April 19.

Though Speaker Justin Muturi, who incidentally chairs PSC, avoided commenting on the matter saying it would be in breach of the house rules and procedures, word doing rounds in parliament had it that some PSC commissioners may have pocketed between Sh500,000 and Sh1 million each to favour a certain candidate.

Last week, Muturi while sending out the invite for the Special Sitting listed the Huduma Namba Bill, approval of a Sh9 billion defence pact with the UK and approval additional allocations to the 47 counties as the key agenda, but left out the issue of the Clerk.

But Mbadi now says Muturi had intended to sneak in the motion on the appointment of the clerk under a section in his notice that he had indicated : “Consideration of any other priority business certified as urgent by the Speaker.”

Muturi however, maintained that he had no ill intentions on the Special Sitting and was only forced to cancel it after the Government Printer failed to publish the gazette notice.

“Let me not engage myself into some of those political intrigues, but the truth of the matter is that the meeting could not go on without the gazette notice,” said Muturi.

In his petition, Omtatah seeks the orders on the grounds that the ongoing recruitment of the Clerk of the National Assembly of the 13th Parliament is unconstitutional for lack of public participation.

“The petitioner is aggrieved to the extent that it is opaque and it does not provide for public participation, the impugned recruitment process contravenes express provisions of the Constitution on the rule of law, public participation, and transparency and accountability,” reads the court papers.

According to Omtatah, the Clerk of the National Assembly for the next House must be appointed by the National Assembly of the 13th Parliament. 

“It will be a violation of the Constitution of the current National Assembly (of the 12th Parliament) was to appoint the Clerk of the National Assembly of the 13th Parliament,” the activist says. He further faults PSC for secretly shortlisting of names of candidates for interviews. “To make matters worse, the recruitment is shrouded in secrecy. Since the adverts went out in February 2022, the PSC has never published the long lists of persons who applied for the positions.

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