Battle of the professors as Kiama ‘retains’ UoN top post

By Sheila Mutua On Mon, 20 Jan, 2020 19:08 | 2 mins read
UoN VC, Stephen Kiama Gitahi, whose appointment was annulled by Education minister, George Magoha, on Friday, has vowed to stay put. [PHOTO | K24 DIGITAL]
UoN VC, Stephen Kiama Gitahi, whose appointment had been revoked by Education CS George Magoha. PHOTO | K24 DIGITAL

The Employment and Labour Court has suspended the decision to revoke the appointment of Prof Stephen Kiama as the vice-chancellor (VC) of the University of Nairobi.

Justice Maureen Onyango made the ruling on Monday where she also halted the selection of Prof Isaac Mbeche as acting VC.

Over the weekend, the Education Cabinet Secretary, Prof George Magoha, had revoked the appointment of Prof Kiama and sent the UoN Council packing.

The orders of the court will remain in force until February 5, 2020 when the case will be heard inter-parties.

In his application challenging CS Magoha’s decision, Prof Kiama’s lawyer, Fred Ngatia, asked the court to stay the purported revocation of his appointment as vice chancellor and to stay the purported appointment of Prof Isaac Mbeche as the acting vice chancellor. 

Prof Kiama claimed that on January 18, 2020, he received a letter dated January 17, 2020 from Prof Magoha informing him that his appointment had been revoked and directing him in the interim to resume the duty of deputy vice-chancellor, human resource and administration at the UoN, which he held before his elevation.

The new VC sued CS Magoha, the attorney-general and listed Public Service Commission, the University of Nairobi and Prof Isaac Mbeche as interested parties.

Prof Kiama, a veterinary surgeon, claimed that the action of Prof Magoha was a matter of intense, electronic and print media discourse.

Upon learning of the decision, he said in his court application, numerous attempts were made to have the CS rescind his decision which had plunged the University in a grave and unpalatable chaos.

Despite interventions, Prof Kiama said CS Magoha contemptuously ignored the request prompting him to move to court. 

“As a consequence, I have had to issue a press release on page 11 of the Sunday newspaper of January 19, 2020, to calm down the tension and chaos caused by Prof Magoha’s decision,” said Prof Kiama.

In the court documents, Prof Kiama said he was lawfully appointed as the UoN vice chancellor on January, 3, 2020, for a period of five years with effect from Monday, January 6, 2020.

Prof Kiama said the decision to appoint him was made by the Council of the University of Nairobi after consultation with Prof Magoha, a claim the Education boss denied according to a Daily Nation report.

The VC said he has already assumed office and commenced statutory duties as set out in the University Act of 2012.

Prof Kiama told the court that under section 35 of the University Act of 2012, the CS has no absolute power to revoke or appoint the petitioner and he also has no power to appoint Prof Isaac Mbeche as the acting VC.

The don argued that such powers are only exercised by the University of Nairobi Council.

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