Tribunal recommends sacking of IEBC commissioner Irene Masit

Irene Masit

A tribunal has recommended dismissal of IEBC Commissioner Irene Masit. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NMG

A tribunal appointed by President William Ruto to investigate the suspended commissioner of the electoral body Irene Masit has recommended her removal for gross misconduct.

Ms Masit was one of four commissioners who rejected last year’s presidential election results.

The tribunal chaired by Court of Appeal judge Aggrey Muchelule said her actions on August 15, 2022 to agree to the proposal by two delegations to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to moderate the result of the presidential election in favour of Raila Odinga was gross misconduct.

The tribunal said evidence presented before them indicated that the proposal would have forced a presidential re-run and that the four commissioners, including Ms Masit had been promised a reward.

“…this Tribunal recommends ... that Commissioner Irene Cherop Masit be removed from office as a member of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission,” the tribunal said.

'Improper influence'

The tribunal noted that two delegations comprising members of the National Security Advisory Council (NSAC) led by Kennedy Ogeto (then Solicitor General), Hillary Mutyambai (then Inspector General of Police), and Lieutenant General Francis Omondi Ogolla (Vice Chief of Defence Forces) and another comprising of “Elders” led former Cabinet Secretary Raphael Tuju visited all the commissioners and asked them to moderate the results or in the alternative force a run-off.

“Secondly, the actions by the commissioners to proceed to Serena (hotel) 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.

Three other commissioners --Juliana Cherera (former vice chairperson), Francis Wanderi and Justus Nyang’aya -- opted to resign than face the tribunal.

Article 251 (6) says the recommendation of the tribunal is binding to the President, who shall act in accordance within 30 days.

The tribunal said the actions of Ms Masit were in serious breach of the Leadership and Integrity Act and gross misconduct. The tribunal, however, said her actions do not amount to incompetence.

The tribunal said that Ms Masit was duty-bound to conduct free and fair elections, free from intimidation, improper influence or corruption.

“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 ruled.

The four commissioners were accused of agreeing to interfere with the presidential election results and later addressed the press at the Nairobi Serena Hotel, denouncing the presidential outcome.

The tribunal said the four commissioners participated in tallying and verifying the results yet filed affidavits against IEBC in the elections Supreme Court case.

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