Uhuru gazettes BBI taskforce as Omtatah challenges it in court

Tuesday, January 14th, 2020 00:00 |
Activist Okiya Omtatah moved to court yesterday seeking to stop the President from extending the BBI team’s mandate. Photo/PD/FILE

Anthony Mwangi and Bernice Mbugua

President Uhuru Kenyatta yesterday gazetted the appointment of a 14-member committee to oversee the implementation of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) taskforce report.

But the team will have to navigate a fresh hurdle after activist Okiya Omtatah moved to court seeking to stop the President from extending the team’s mandate. The taskforce was formed after the President and ODM party leader Raila Odinga called a truce in March, 2018, following prolonged post-election tension. 

The BBI team has been renamed the Steering Committee on the Implementation of the Building Bridges to a United Kenya Taskforce Report.

But in his petition, Omtatah claims the President has no power to establish the said taskforce, which he claims intends to amend the Constitution.

“As a state officer, the President is under a strict constitutional and legal duty to only exercise power donated either directly by the Constitution or laws enacted under the Constitution,” he said in court documents.

Pressure had been mounting on the President to gazette the taskforce, with Amani National Congress party leader Musalia Mudavadi saying failure to do so could delay the steering of the next phase of the recently-launched BBI report. The President extended the team’s term last month.

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula claimed delay in gazetting the taskforce created a conduit where public resources were being wasted by sustaining a team that had no power to execute its mandate.

The terms of reference of the steering committee will be to conduct a validation of the BBI report through consultations with citizens, civil society, the faith-based organisations, cultural leaders, the private sector, and experts.

“The Terms of Reference of the Steering Committee shall be to: propose administrative, policy, statutory or constitutional changes that may be necessary for the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Taskforce Report, taking into account any relevant contributions made during the validation period,” reads the gazette notice in part.

After consultations with various stakeholders, the committee is expected to come up with proposals that ought to be made to pave the way for implementation of the BBI report.

“The Steering Committee shall submit its “comprehensive advice to the Government by June 30, 2020 or such a date as the President may, by notice in the Gazette, prescribe,” the notice adds.

The committee comprises Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji, Bishop Lawi Imathiu, Busia Senator Amos Wako, Maison Leshomo, James Matundura, Rose Museo, Agnes Kavindu Muthama, Saeed Mwaguni. 

Others are Bishop (rtd) Peter Njenga, Archbishop Emeritus Zaccheaus Okoth, Adams Oloo, Florence Omose, Morompi ole Ronkei and Maj (rtd) John Seii. Martin Kimani and Paul Mwangi, will remain the joint secretaries.

The team shall solicit, receive and consider written memoranda or information from the public; and may carry out or cause to be carried out such assessments, studies or research as may inform its mandate.

Omtatah has named the National Executive, National Treasury, and the presidential taskforce on Building Bridges to Unity Advisory and the Attorney General as respondents in the suit.

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