Raila Odinga has described the ongoing petition before the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) of the National Assembly on the removal of four commissioners at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) as a political witch-hunt.
Raila told Journalists Thursday in Nairobi that the ongoing probe is a revenge mission by President William Ruto’s led administration against IEBC Deputy Chairperson Juliana Cherera and commissioners Francis Mathenge, Irene Masit, and Justus Nyang’aya for expressing reservations over the process that lead to the declaration Ruto as Kenya’s 5th President.
Ruto’s hands in petition
The Azimio leader claimed the petition is being steamrolled by the Speakers of the National Assembly and the Senate and President Ruto.
He went on to say the outcome of the ongoing petition against the dissenting commissioners is already pre-determined and seeks to unlawfully kick them out of the IEBC.
“The four Commissioners are supposed to appear before this Committee, be found guilty, and be made to appear before a tribunal to be set up by Ruto that will confirm their guilt. They will then be thrown out of IEBC,” he said.
He added that the “selective injustice” against the four commissioners takes place despite the existence of other petitions seeking the removal of Wafula Chebukati, Abdi Guliye, and Boya Molu as commissioners of IEBC.
“The criminal Ruto stooges at IEBC are being protected and rewarded while those who fought for the integrity of our elections are being punished,” Raila said.
Raila cited the petition by Milton Nyakundi Oriku dated 19th September 2022 against the three-Chebukati, Guliye, and Molu- which was received at the Main Records Unit of the Senate on 28th September 2022 which he said is yet to be tabled before the Senate.
He added that another petition dated October 17th was received at the National Assembly’s Main Records Unit on 25th October 2022 adding that the petition has not been brought before the National Assembly even as the same institution begins to grill Cherera and her colleagues.
The Azimio Coalition leader said that since Azimio Coalition accepted the Supreme Court ruling on the presidential election, the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) administration has proceeded on what he described a “path of impunity, witch hunt, and revenge.”
The Orange leader further claimed president Ruto’s administration has continued to target institutions and individuals who opposed them during the past campaigns.
“The regime has also targeted those it believes it cannot trust to dance to UDA’s tune in 2027 elections,” he said, singling out the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and former DCI Director George Kinoti among the first victims.
He noted that since the conclusion of the 2022 election cycle, the opposition has done its best to allow President Ruto time and space to heal and reconcile the country, but he has failed to do so.
He went on to say that they have given “so much space” to President Ruto to a point “that a section of Kenyans think we (Opposition) have given up the fight”
“Unfortunately, Ruto too seems to think have surrendered. Instead of healing the land, however, all we see is a leadership that is extremely keen to deepen and widen the bitter, partisan divide that existed during campaigns and even open new wounds,” Raila said.
He argued that the petition against the Cherera Four is directly linked to the 2027 elections.
With the dissenting Commissioners out of IEBC, Odinga claimed that the Ruto administration wants to “pick a set of user-friendly commissioners to complete the capture of IEBC, for 2027 elections.”
“The musketeers at IEBC-Chebukati, Molu, and Guliye have sworn not to hand over to Ms. Cherera and her team. That is why there is a rush on the four commissioners to ensure Chebukati has no one to hand over to come January,” he said.
He went on to say the country is witnessing what he described as a swift, steady and dangerous re-emergence of the capture of institutions by the Executive.
“The Judiciary was the first to willingly give in to Ruto. A struggle is underway at IEBC pitting Chebukati and his team who have surrendered to UDA against those who want to ensure the integrity of the institution,” he said.
He vowed to oppose any attempt by the Ruto administration to misuse the law.
“We are here to sound a warning. No one should lie to this regime that we will sit back and watch a return of the Nyayo regime by another name. If deepening and widening the divisions among Kenyans is what the UDA regime wants, we will only be too happy to help them along that path,” he said.
Also, he appealed to both Houses of Parliament to be guarantors of the rule of law and justice in the country and stop being “enablers of the unconstitutional revenge mission they have been deployed on against the four commissioners.”
He was accompanied by Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka, NARC-Kenya leader Martha Karua and lawyer Makau Mutua.