A meeting on Thursday morning where the matter was to be thrashed out was abruptly called off, angering MPs.
The committee was scheduled to meet Inspector-General of Police Joseph Boinnet over the killing of a cancer patient earlier in the year but this was called off at the police chief’s request.
Differences over the handling of investigations into the possible loss of Sh5 billion at the Health ministry have split a National Assembly committee, with its head now facing a no-confidence motion.
About 20 members of the Health Committee were on Thursday reported to have signed a petition against chairperson Rachel Nyamai and vice chairman Robert Pukose.
“I signed the petition yesterday (Wednesday) and at the time, 16 others had signed. By evening I was told about 20 had signed it,” said Matungulu MP Stephen Mule.
Some of the MPs who had arrived at Continental House ready to confront their chairman were angry at the abrupt cancellation, saying they were only informed by text message at the last minute.
“They have been covering up for the Ministry of Health,” said Mr Mule.
There were, however, fears that the might of the Jubilee Coalition could be brought to bear to scuttle the attempt to remove Dr Nyamai.
“We have seen similar attempts being scuttled in other committees but we hope there will be no external influence. Members are determined,” said Kathiani MP Robert Mbui.
Mr Mbui said Dr Nyamai has been accused of incompetence and of bullying members in meetings.
Both Dr Nyamai and Dr Pukose could not be reached for comment last evening.
Differences between Dr Nyamai and some members of the committee emerged in Mombasa last Friday when she appeared to pre-empt the team’s position by declaring that the container mobile clinics at the centre of the controversy were in order.
“Experts in the committee have ascertained that most of the medical equipment, as per the contract, is available,” she said, to the chagrin of members.
Mr Mbui protested that he was denied an opportunity to comment or ask questions about the 100 containers brought in at a cost of Sh1 billion, Sh800 million of which has been paid to the supplier.
The Senate Health Committee has also been making inquiries into the matter and the differences in the manner in which the two House committees have handled it have been manifest.
When Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu met the National Assembly team last week, some members complained that Dr Nyamai was shielding him from questions.
House rules require that when a majority of the members of a committee lose confidence in their chairperson, they petition the Clerk of the National Assembly to organise the election of another.