ODM kicks Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo out of key committee


ODM kicks Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo out of key committee

Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo was yesterday kicked out as the vice-chair of the National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) less than a year after he assumed office.

The Senior Counsel, who appears to have rattled a section of the Orange party members not comfortable with his stance on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill, was replaced by Ruaraka MP T.J Kajwang.

In his reaction to ODM’s move, Mr Amollo wrote on Twitter: “The vicissitudes of politics. So the schemers want me out of JLAC. I will take it in grace and stride.”

Illegality issue

The removal of Mr Amollo, who is among MPs who have questioned the creation of 70 new constituencies in the proposed Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2020, has caught the eyes of many.

Mr Odinga is pushing for the enactment of the Bill sponsored by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) that he helped create together with President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Mr Amollo’s comments on the initiative have been interpreted by ODM supporters as amounting to lack of respect for the party leader.

The joint report of the Justice committees of the National Assembly and Senate, that was delivered to the two Houses, found the creation of the new constituencies unconstitutional.

Amollo’s removal comes as Siaya Senator James Orengo is under fire from a section of the party members for flagging fundamental issues in the Constitutional of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020.

Orengo’s critics have accused him of being disloyal and a saboteur in the party. But what befell the Rarieda MP affirmed that the BBI Bill birthed through the Handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila was under threat.

The ODM deputy leader and Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya yesterday called on the feuding MPs to stop washing their ‘dirty linen’ in public. The governor expressed displeasure with the tiff in the party where some MPs have differed with Orengo over the creation of 70 new constituencies.

ODM is not a Luo party. This is a national party. It should not be reduced to an ethnic party. We should call for an urgent National Executive Council meeting to resolve our concerns,” said Oparanya while addressing the media in Kisumu, yesterday.

The governor wondered why only Luo MPs were feuding, while other regions were firmly behind the party leader.

A source stated: “We cannot have members who are on the extreme. We are in the Handshake and we must live in the spirit of give and take. This will serve as an example.

National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi said the decision to remove the Rarieda MP was in line with the aspirations of the ODM party and NASA.

“We have made changes in the JLAC to align with the aspirations of ODM and NASA coalition. T.J Kajwang is joining; he may not be a professor in law but he is the people’s chief justice,” said Mbadi.

Ensuring efficiency

Majority Leader Amos Kimunya said the changes were made following a resolution by the Selection Committee and are aimed at ensuring efficiency in the committees. He explained that the changes, which were proposed by the political parties as well as their coalitions, were necessitated by the demise of Kiambaa MP Paul Koinange.

“These names were approved by the selection committee in its sitting yesterday. Names were proposed by the political parties and the political coalition and are basically reorganization to fill gap occasioned by the demise of Paul Koinange,” said the Kipipiri MP.

The confirmation by Minority Whip and Raila confidant Junet Mohammed of the decision to kick Amollo out of the committee that has been handling BBI in Parliament raises concerns.

“The vicissitudes of politics. So, the Schemers want me out of JLAC. I will take it in grace and stride,” Amollo tweeted. “Yes, the party has resolved to remove him from the committee and replace him with Kajwang,” said Junet. But this just the tip of the iceberg if claims by Lugari MP Ayub Savula are anything to go by. 

“The MP is being removed because of his remarks in the House following the nomination of Justice Martha Koome to the Chief Justice position. He stood by his sentiments and this threatens the Handshake and BBI,” claimed Savula.

“The JLAC will vet Koome next week. He is not supporting Koome and as the vice-chair, he cannot continue serving on the committee. We support Koome because it gives women an opportunity to ascend to top leadership positions,” he added.  

House rules

While discharging a member from a committee, the majority or minority whip is only required to notify the Speaker through the leader of majority of the intended changes.

The Speaker shall then read the changes to the House and this will be final.

Mr Amollo’s Twitter post could be an indication that he learnt of the scheme to replace him without being accorded a fair hearing as provided for in the law.

Standing Order 176 (1) of the National Assembly Standing Orders provides that a parliamentary party may discharge a member from a select committee after affording the member an opportunity to be heard.

“The parliamentary party whip of the party that nominated a member to a select committee shall give notice in writing to the Speaker of the intention to discharge a member from a select committee,” the House rules read.

They further provide that the Speaker shall, within three days of receipt of the notice, inform the member of the notice.

Just like Mr Orengo, Mr Amollo is Mr Odinga’s die-hard supporter.

The two renowned city lawyers are largely known for playing a great role in Mr Odinga’s success in the 2017 Supreme Court presidential election petition that challenged President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election.

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