CJ Interviews: I ended University of Nairobi demos, Ngatia tells panelists

By Collins Osanya On Tue, 20 Apr, 2021 10:46 | 2 mins read
Senior Counsel Fred Ngatia
Senior Counsel Fred Ngatia

A seasoned lawyer closely associated with landmark rulings and cases in the country, Senior Counsel Fred Ngatia told the JSC commission that through his guidance, he helped bring an end to University of Nairobi student demos.

While appearing before the committee sitting to pick Kenya’s next Chief Justice on Tuesday, 20 April, Ngatia gave an example of his transformative leadership through his role in ridding a lot of disciplinary cases at the high court involving UoN students.

According to Ngatia, the Senate sought his legal services to help bring an end to the strikes and demonstrations by university students after one of them was expelled or suspended.

“Commissioners as you may recall University of Nairobi students used to go on strike now and them. It became so perennial that we questioned if we should have a university within the urban population of Nairobi. The senate asked to look for the ills bedevilling this university,” the Senior Counsel told the panelist. 

Ngatia further revealed that as counsel he was involved in disciplinary cases at the high court that involved university students.

“Almost all the cases had almost a circular effect. You discipline, a student, expel him and that provokes a University of Nairobi demos at the campus, you don’t do that, the same circular effect happens,” Ngatia explained. 

The Senior Counsel then held consultative meetings with the administrators of the six colleges of the University of Nairobi with the aim of harmonizing the disciplinary method of over the 80,000 students. 

“Each of this seven colleges had its own disciplinary structure. We had seminars, workshops, we looked at various colleges globally and looked at this university that was the 7th in Africa.

There was no harmony in UoN within the sentences awarded to students. There was no harmony on what is a disciplinary offense. I crafted a student handbook that was to operate across the board so that one student is not expelled when another told do not do that again for the same transgression.”

The Senior Counsel was replying a question from Prof Olive Mugenda on any tangible example he had where his transformative leadership delivered results.

“I can say this without fear of contradiction that the harmony you see at this university is as a result of the work that we did. We were able to transform what was becoming more or less a perennial problem of indiscipline to a reputable college,” Ngatia responded.

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