Senate briefly stops debate on BBI Bill after Linturi arrest, resumes sittings after his release

Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka on Wednesday briefly adjourned the sitting convened to debate the Constitution Amendment Bill, 2020 following Meru Senator Mithika Linturi’s arrest.

Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot brought to the attention of the speaker the arrest of their colleague whom he said had made a distress call to him that he had been arrested by DCI officers.

“I would wish to know from you whether senator Linturi has been arrested. How do we proceed when we know that?” Cheruiyot posed.

Police sources intimate that Linturi was arrested over claims of bank fraud and would be arraigned on Thursday.

But Cheruiyot linked Linturi’s arrest to his position on the BBI bill that is set for debate in the House.

During the morning session, Linturi had sought the speaker’s guidance on the interpretation of Article 257 of the Constitution on whether Parliament can amend the Bill.

However, the speaker had cut him short saying that his request was premature and asked him to raise his point of order during the afternoon session.

Minority leader James Orengo said the matter of Linturi’s arrest was not as simple as the majority whip Senator Kimani Wamatangi had put it that Linturi had some issues with the police that led to his arrest, but he had since been released and was on his way to Parliament.

“This issue has everything to do with the liberty of Parliament. When a member of Parliament is on his way to Parliament or when Parliament is in session, a member of parliament should not be arrested. If we let it continue, police are going to come into the chamber, not just to arrest Linturi, but to arrest the speaker.I suggest that unless you have a proper answer, this House has no business,” Orengo said, forcing the speaker to adjourn the session for 30 minutes.

However, debate resumed on the evening after Linturi returned to the chambers.

Speaking on the floor of the House, Linturi said the few hours he had in the hands of DCI boss George Kinoti were not one of the best experiences to say the least.

“I have been thankful to this House. Today is a serious day in the history of this country. Despite that serious moment in our history that will not probably come in the next few years…. I find it very absurd. I would have been summoned to go to the DCI on any other day . But today, it was very painful to me… This gentleman, I don’t even understand why this had to happen.” Linturi said.

Linturi said after leaving the morning session at the Senate, he went to his house and found people in three vehicles surrounding his residence, “brandishing guns and wanting to arrest me”.

“I should be treated with dignity. I am a Kenyan. I am a leader, I am not running away. I have been told to appear tomorrow 9 o’clock but we shall be here to debate this Bill. So I don’t know what we shall do. Because I need to be her.”

Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot asked the speaker to write to Kinoti and IG of police Hillary Mutyambai to postpone Linturi’s appearance at the DCI offices.

Lusaka said he had already engaged the IG and Interior CS Fred Matiang’i and agreed to push ahead Linturi’s appearance until the business of the house scheduled for Thursday is concluded.

“We have also agreed that no member of any assembly, whether county, Senate or National Assembly, will be arrested without the speaker’s knowledge,” he said.

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