Leadership wrangles at the University of Nairobi (UoN) have taken a new turn after a member of the public moved to court to challenge Education secretary Fred Matiang’i’s directive to its council to reinstate sacked Deputy Vice-Chancellor (DVC) Bernard Njoroge.
Hezekiah Asudi claims Prof Njoroge, in charge of finance and administration has his contract terminated by the University Council over integrity issues yet Dr Matiang’i has directed that he be reinstated.
Through lawyer Ambani Jusa, Mr Asudi has sued Prof Njoroge, the University Council, Vice-Chancellor Peter Mbithi and Dr Matiang’i.
He accuses them of jointly violating the Constitution and therefore wants the court to intervene in the matter.
According to Mr Jusa, there is an urgent need for the dispute to be addressed to protect Kenyans, the alumni and staff of the university.
“The Council has already resolved that Prof Njoroge is not fit to hold the office of the DVC at the institution and has suspended him, conservatory orders should therefore be granted to safeguard the university from being forced to retain him despite integrity allegations against him,” Mr Jusa said.
He wants the case certified urgent, heard on a priority basis and a temporary order issued stopping Prof Njoroge from resuming duties.
He also wants Dr Matiang’i barred from interfering with personnel matters at the university pending the hearing and determination of the case.
In a letter dated June 29 and addressed to Council chairman Idle Farah, the Dr Matiang’i ordered the immediate reinstatement of Prof Njoroge saying that the entire disciplinary process was a sham, an exercise in witch-hunt and one that violates the law of contract as well as Article 10 and 47 of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.
Prof Njoroge was suspended in November last year and later sacked in May.
Attorney-General Githu Muigai ruled that the Council had the authority on senior management staff disciplinary matters.
In the suit documents, Mr Asudi alleges that Prof Njoroge was questioned by his senior on matters of financial authority for expenditure, transfer of staff and procurement of official goods and services at the university in July 2015.
But Prof Njoroge allegedly responded that he was not accountable to Prof Mbithi, declined to comply with his instructions, assumed duties and responsibilities contrary to the Universities Act and used insulting language against his senior.
His suit comes weeks after the Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) challenged 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 argued that the council was therefore not properly constituted but it went ahead to immediately dismiss Prof Njoroge on May 26. The two cases are now pending in court.