University of Nairobi vice chancellor Prof Stephen Kiama has gone to the Court of Appeal to stop his possible jailing after he and four other senior officials were found in contempt of court for disregarding an order stopping the restructuring of the institution.
Prof Kiama together with Prof Winfred Kamau, Prof Bernard Mwangi, Prof Leonidah Kerubo and Prof Mohamud Jama were found in contempt of court in a ruling on December 10, after going ahead with the university restructuring plans despite a court order obtained by a lecturers union.
In the changes announced through a memo in July, the UoN abolished schools, some colleges, faculties and institutes.
University Academic Staff Union (UASU) challenged the changes arguing that there was no policy framework nor transitional guidelines. The lecturers also said the move had caused anxiety, disquiet, and confusion in the university.
In a ruling last month, Justice Maureen Onyango agreed with the union that the university had gone ahead with the changes despite an order, halting the process. She directed them to appear in court on January 27, for sentencing.
Prof Kiama, however says in the appeal that he and the four senior officials were not joined in the case, nor served with the court papers.
He further says the memo was a mere communique of the university’s institutional reforms, which has already been effected by the time the order was issued.
“That in the event that the court directs the 3rd appellant (Prof Kiama) to be incarcerated at the sentencing scheduled for 27th January, 2022, and thereafter the appeal succeeds, operations of the 1st appellant shall have been greatly disrupted given that the 3rd appellant is its academic and administrative head,” his lawyer Fred Ngatia argued.
He said the ruling has plunged the university into disarray in that the employees are afraid to execute their duties as mandated, fearing that they might be cited for contempt.
“The position of the vice chancellor is an administrative position, critical to the performance of the university and the operations will be disrupted in case the 1st appellant is jailed,” he said