Matiangi Sued over sacking of top varsity official

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A lobby group has challenged the dismissal of a University of Nairobi official by the University Council.

The Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) on Tuesday sued Education Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i, UoN Vice-Chancellor Peter Mbithi and the council’s chairman, Idle Omar Farah, for the sacking of Bernard Njoroge, the deputy vice-chancellor for administration and finance.

Through lawyer Peter Mugalo, Cofek accused the two of instituting proceedings that ended up recommending Prof Njoroge’s dismissal contrary to a circular from the Head of Public Service that nullified appointments of State and public officers to boards of state corporations in their individual capacities.

Cofek faulted the fact that two members of the council — Pascalia Koske and Lucy Kiyiapi — are public servants and also work with the Teachers Service Commission and Moi University respectively.

According to the lobby, the council was therefore not properly constituted but it went ahead to immediately dismiss Prof Njoroge on May 26.

The lobby alleged that Sanjay Advani is not a Kenyan citizen but was also part of the board meeting that handled disciplinary proceedings against Prof Njoroge.

They therefore claimed the dismissal was contrary to the February 3 circular while seeking that the matter be heard and determined urgently and largely laid blame on Dr Matiang’i, Prof Mbithi and Dr Farah.

“In light of the glaring gross violation of the Constitution by Prof Mbithi and Dr Farah, the CS must offer lawful leadership to the institution, therefore any action contrary to this amounts to breach of public trust,” Mr Mugalo said.

Cofek argued that any decisions reached by the council are unlawful as the members ceased serving following the directive from said circular.

They also argued that the resignation of other members, namely Betty Gikonyo and Joseph Dena, whose positions have never been filled renders the council dysfunctional.

They further alleged that the manner in which Wamugunda Wakimani’s contract was extended though he had attained the retirement age of 60 is in contrast to how the disciplinary proceedings against Prof Njoroge were conducted.

Prof Mbithi and Prof Njoroge have been embroiled in power struggles over various issues, including mismanagement of funds and control of the university since last year.

As soon as he was appointed as the deputy vice-chancellor, Prof Njoroge wrote to Dr Farah seeking protection from his boss while accusing him of belittling him and interfering with his duties.

But Dr Farah asked him to “swiftly comply with instructions issued by the Vice Chancellor in his capacity as the accounting officer of the university.”

He had been asked to face disciplinary action to show cause why action should not be taken against him over alleged indiscipline, gross misconduct, incitement and insubordination.

However, Cofek accused the sued parties for allegedly showing double standards and wants the dismissal quashed. It also wants the CS to be barred from acting on Dr Farah’s letter, which recommended his sacking.