GBR Team 12/03/2021
Professor Madara Ogot has been reinstated back as the Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Research at the University of Nairobi after the Employment and Labour Court reversed a Council decision to fire him for insurbordination last year.
The Professor of Mechanical Engineering got into trouble shortly after current Vice Chancellor Stephen Kiama took office over a circular he had previously issued, cancelling a ceremony to install Kiama as the institution’s chief executive.
This was after Education Cabinet Secretary, Prof. George Magoha, cancelled Kiama’s appointment, and suspended the Julia Ojiambo led University Council over alleged irregularities surrounding the recruitment.
In a harsh rebuke to the University’s top decision making organ, Justice Maureen Onyango found that Professor Ogot was deliberately singled out and targeted for victimization by the Dr. Julia Ojiambo-led Council despite evidence being available that Prof. Ogot was acting on instructions of the then acting Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Isaac Mbeche, and the University’s executive board, to issue the circular to staff and students in the ensuing confusion.
Prof. Ogot was fired after a disciplinary hearing convened by the Council an ordered to go back to day to day teaching duties at the College of Architecture and Engineering Sciences with immediate effect.
Justice Onyango found that while the procedure of convening the hearing was fair, all other actions of the Council flouted the law.
She noted that it was a fact that there was no substantive Vice-Chancellor at the University when Prof. Ogot issued the communique, as Kiama’s appointment had been revoked by CS Magoha by an official gazette notice.
The Judge noted that in the ensuing confusion, it was only appropriate that the acting VC convene an emergency board meeting to give direction to the University Community.
Further, that the University bosses did not bother to contact Prof. Mbeche to find out if indeed he had issued such instructions to Prof Ogot, and in which case, the Council should have shifted blame to Mbeche not Prof. Ogot.
She rejected the Council’s claim that there was no board resolution provided to show evidence of such a meeting and noted that there was nothing to be resolved as it was only a matter of communicating a gazette notice issued on a decision already made by the Cabinet Secretaty of Education.
The judge observed that the Prof. Ogot’s duties as acting DVC Finance and Administration, included any other duties that the VC delegated to him.
Ordinarily, the Court heard, Prof. Kiama in his capacity as DVC Human Resource Affairs, would have been the one to issue the circular, but under the circumstances, could not well be expected to issue a memo against his own appointment.
Justice Onyango noted that the DVC Research post had remained vacant since Prof. Ogot’s firing and issued orders that he be reinstated with full benefits.