President William Ruto on Friday, May 5 appointed a 13-member team that will form the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the Shakahola massacre which has seen more than 100 bodies exhumed.
The team will be composed of eight commissioners, two joint secretaries, a lead counsel and two assisting lead counsels, according to a Gazette notice, and will comprise senior lawyers, preachers, doctors and other professionals.
The commission of inquiry, appointed under the Commissions of Inquiry Act (Cap. 102), will be chaired by Lady Justice Jessie W. Lesiit, and will include;
Lady Justice (Rtd.) Mary Muhanji Kasango,
Bishop Catherine Mutua
Dr Jonathan Lodompui
Dr Frank Njenga
The Joint Secretaries of the commission will be Oliver Kipchumba Karori and Rachel Maina, while Kioko Kilukumi will serve as Lead Counsel, with Vivian Janet Nyambeki and Bahati Mwamuye as Assisting Counsel.
Roles And Responsibilities of Judicial Commission of Inquiry
The mandate of the commission of inquiry will be to investigate the deaths, torture, and inhumane and degrading treatment of members and other persons linked to the Good News International Church in Kilifi County, establish the circumstances under which these incidents occurred, and identify the persons and organizations who bear the greatest responsibility for the Shakahola tragedy.
The commission will also recommend specific actions that should be taken against them, including admonition, regulatory actions, reparations, or recommendations for criminal investigation.
In addition, the commission will inquire into the legal, institutional, administrative, security, and intelligence lapses that may have contributed to the occurrence of the Shakahola tragedy.
It will recommend legal, administrative, or other forms of accountability action against any public official whose actions or omissions are established to have willfully or negligently contributed to the occurrence of the tragedy.
The commission will also inquire into the factors that lead to the rise of that particular religious extremist institution, as well as the factors that give rise to such religious extremist institutions, cults, occultist groups, and other formations that foster negative religion-based activities generally.
The commission will recommend legal, administrative, institutional, and regulatory reforms aimed at preventing the occurrence of future situations of deaths or gross violations of the rights and welfare of persons by religious extremist institutions, cults, occultist groups, and other formations that foster negative religion-based activities.
The commission will hold public hearings and may hold private hearings if necessary. It will summon any person concerned to testify on oath and to produce any books or documents that the commission of inquiry may require.
The commission will prepare and submit a report and its recommendations to the President within six (6) months from the date hereof.
President Ruto, in explaining the decision to form the task force, revealed that the Shakahola deaths were a wake-up call on the need to regulate religious institutions.
The commission’s recommendations are expected to inform legal, institutional, and regulatory reforms aimed at addressing the root causes of religious extremism and preventing the occurrence of similar incidents in the future.
The Head of State revealed on Sunday, April 30 that he would work with all of Kenya’s religious leaders to form the task force that will crack down on quack preachers taking advantage of their congregants for selfish gain.