Court to rule on Omtatah case contesting hiring of NCIC commissioners

Activist Okiya Omtatah. /FILE
Activist Okiya Omtatah. /FILE

The High Court is on Monday next week set to rule on the case filed by activist Okiya Omtatah which led to a stop in the recruitment of new NCIC commissioners.

The positions of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission officials fell vacant in August last year.

The former commissioners included Francis Kaparo, who was the chairman, Irene Wanyoike (deputy), Belinda Ochiel, Adan Abdi Mohammed, and Roba Sharamo.

Others were Joseph Nasongo, Morris Dzoro, and Gitile Naituli.

They were supposed to serve a three-year term from 2014, but President Uhuru Kenyatta extended it by a year.

National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi authorised the Cohesion and equal opportunity committee to start recruitment of 15 people for approval by the House.

They will then be forwarded to the President for appointment.

The committee had already invited applications, shortlisted and scheduled interviews for November 12 to 14 last year.

But Omtatah moved to court to stop the hiring on grounds the recruitment ought to be carried out by the Public Service Commission, not Parliament.

His contention is that the NCIC is a not a constitutional commission and hence falls under the PSC.

Omtatah also claims that having the parliamentary committee on cohesion and equal opportunity conduct the shortlisting of the commissioners and subsequent interview is a conflict of interest because they will also be the ones to vet them for parliamentary approval.

“To the extent that the legislature is recruiting persons for appointment as commissioners of the NCIC, a function which pursuant to Articles 1(3)(B)

and 234 of

the Constitution falls squarely under the Executive and the Public Service Commission, the principle of the separation of powers is violated,” Omtatah said in his petition.

Omtatah argued that the role of Parliament is limited to vetting candidates for the PSC or the Executive.

He also states that if the National Assembly is allowed to conduct the process, it would make it "fatally unprocedural" and would amount to the House usurping the powers of the PSC and the Executive as a whole.

It violates the principle of separation of powers and comprises the Parliament's oversight mandate over the Executive, he said in court.

Justice Wilfrida Okwany ordered the planned interviews be stopped

pending the hearing and determination of the case.

Among the 54 who were shortlisted included former journalist Richard Chacha, who is also the director of communication in Mombasa county,

former MPs Raphael Letimalo, Halima Mohamed, journalist Njeri Rugene, George Omondi and Shukran Gure.

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