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Showdown as CA blocks Wangusi from resuming office

WANGUSI

Mr Francis Wangusi. PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA

Francis Wangusi was Thursday barred from resuming his post as director-general of the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), despite a January 30 court order reinstating him in office.

Mr Wangusi had gone to the CA premises on Nairobi’s on Waiyaki Way on Wednesday to “prepare” his office for the planned return but when he officially reported Thursday, four men blocked the gate to the authority’s offices denying him entry.

Benjamin Makokha, who is representing Mr Wangusi in the case, said he believed the men were plainclothes policemen who refused to communicate or officially identify themselves.

The stand-off lasted for about two hours before Mr Wangusi and his lawyer left the grounds.

“They have locked the gate and are not talking to anyone. They are not saying who sent them, they are just standing there,” Mr Makokha said in a telephone interview.

READ: Wangusi in plea to join his reinstatement case

The CA board sent Mr Wangusi on a three-month compulsory leave in a surprising move that effectively removed him from office.

The board later issued a statement claiming that Mr Wangusi had been sent home to assure the independence of a planned audit on hiring practices at the authority.

Mr Wangusi moved to court arguing that the board had acted illegally, painted him as a corrupt person and damaged his reputation, causing him “emotional and psychological torture”.

The court issued a temporary order reinstating Mr Wangusi to office pending hearing on the petition.  

READ: Court reinstates suspended CA boss Wangusi

Information minister Joe Mucheru said he was not aware that Mr Wangusi had gone to the CA and referred the Business Daily to the authority’s management for comment. Christopher Kemei, who was appointed acting director-general, yesterday confirmed that Mr Wangusi had been at the CA offices on Wednesday.

He, however, denied knowledge of Mr Wangusi being denied access to the authority’s offices yesterday. “I am told he came yesterday. I am not aware of anything happening today… but I am still waiting for a brief,” he said.

The CA had previously said that the human resource audit is supposed to cover the last three financial years of promotions and recruitments and that having Mr Wangusi step away from his post would guarantee independence of the process.

However, in his petition Mr Wangusi faulted the board for failing to follow procedure. He also claimed he was being victimised for “unrelated matters including the parent ministry’s interference with the running of the authority”.

Investigations, including by sister publication Sunday Nation, have revealed that Mr Wangusi often found himself at loggerheads with the Ministry of Information, particularly over requests that the CA finance activities outside its domain.

Mr Wangusi also questioned the legality of the decision to send him on compulsory leave considering that the board did not have a chairman at the time which, he argues, means that it was “improperly constituted to make any legally binding decision”.

The post of CA board chairman has been vacant since May last year when the term of Ben Gituku expired.