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Suit stalls hunt for chief executive at pharmacy board

University of Nairobi council
The University of Nairobi council has scored a major victory against the Ministry of Education on appointment of four deputy vice-chancellors done in January. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The High Court has nullified the recruitment of the Pharmacy and Poisons Board (PPB) chief executive.

Justice George Odunga said the hiring process of the registrar or CEO of the board did not meet the constitutional threshold and favoured only a few candidates.

The ruling means fresh recruitment for a substantive head of the board, leading to a lacuna in ensuring higher standards of safety in the manufacture, distribution and sale of drugs.

"In my view it is clear that the prescriptions by the board were so onerous as to permit only a few persons to apply for the vacant position,” said Justice Odunga.

Key decisions on drug regulations cannot be made without a substantive chief executive.

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The judge said the board imposed various requirements that locked out prospective applicant and granted the opening to only a few individuals.

"It is clearly a prescription that may be abused to pre-determine a person to recruit for the position,” he said.

Justice Odunga added that the board failed to advertise the vacant position in a manner that would reach the widest pool of potential applicants when it closed the advertisement in 13 days as opposed to the human resource policy that recommends 21 days.

Wambua Maithya, who moved to court, had argued that the job requirements were meant to favour acting CEO Fred Siyoi to the detriment of other applicants.

Mr Maithya said the requirement that one should have served at least for five years in senior management or leadership position at similar organisation contravenes the provisions of the PPB Act, which provide for non-discriminative competitive recruitment of the best candidate from the open labour market.

Justice Odunga ordered a 14-day stay of the judgment, which ends on Friday. The decision paves the way for the board to start the search for a new chief executive.

"That an order of certiorari is hereby issued removing into this court and quashing the PPB decision contained in the daily newspaper of January 25, 2019, of advertisement for the vacant position of Registrar/ CEO of the board and any other consequent attendant process or decision including final appointment of the Registrar/CEO of the PPB,” he ordered.

The advertised position was however met with resistance following clauses that favoured specific candidates.

 

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