Court halts appointment of Prof Onyango as Kaimosi Friends University VC

Acting Vice Chancellor of Kaimosi Friends University Prof Nandi Ogodo Manyasa has moved to court to challenge a recommendation by Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu to have the university council appoint Prof Mary Onyango as Vice Chancellor of the university.

Through his lawyer Dr Martin Oloo, Manyasa claims he is the rightfully appointed VC, having emerged top of the list of candidates with 80.33 points.

He was followed by two candidates, Prof. James Njiru and Prof. Mary Onyango, who both tied at 71 points.

The council announced Prof Manyasa’s appointment on January 2nd 2024, but CS Machogu, through a letter to the council, would later recommend Prof Onyango for the position.

“The Public Service Commission, after due diligence and public participation, recommended to the KAFU University Council, in their letter dated 15/12/2023, in order of merit at No. 1 the Petitioner/Applicant, followed by No. 2 Prof James Njiru and No. 3 Prof Mary Abukutsa Onyango,” highlights Dr Oloo’s application.

By letter dated 2/1/2024, the KAFU council sought the concurrence of the Education Cabinet Secretary as by law on the appointment of Prof Manyasa as Vice Chancellor.

“However, rather than give concurrence, the first respondent (CS Machogu), in a departure from the law, decided to also recommend vide a letter dated 5/2/2024, the appointment of Prof Mary Abukutsa Onyango, as the vice chancellor, as opposed to the petitioner,” notes Oloo.

KAFU university council chair Dr Bernadette Mungai scheduled a council meeting on February 9 2024 to deliberate on the CS’s recommendation to have Prof Onyango appointed as VC.

Prof Manyasa however asked the court to halt the meeting on grounds that should the scheduled meeting progress, the council will proceed to appoint Prof Onyango even though the CS’s recommendation is tainted with illegality and procedural impropriety as it is unconstitutional.

The court issued conservatory orders restraining the university council from appointing Prof Onyango as VC until February 21 2024, when the case will proceed for further hearing.

The case is almost similar to what happened at the University of Nairobi back in 2021, when current Vice Chancellor Professor Stephen Kiama’s appointment was revoked by then Education Cabinet Secretary, the late Prof George Magoha.

In December 2020, after conducting 14 interviews, the Public Service Commission shortlisted eight candidates for the position of Vice Chancellor.

These included Prof Stephen Kiama, Prof Isaac Mbeche, Prof Elijah Omwenga, Prof Solomon Igosangwa Shibairo, Prof Madara Ogot, Prof Patricia Kameri Mbote, Prof Eng Benard Njoroge and Prof Ruth Wanjiru Nduati.

Following the conclusion of respective processes at the PSC and subsequent consultation as provided in law, the University council, led by Prof Julia Ojiambo would later appoint Prof Kiama to the position of VC.

“I take this opportunity to thank the Public Service Commission, council colleagues, the Ministry of Education, the entire university fraternity and Chancellor for giving the recruitment process and respective facilitative instruments and agencies a chance,” noted Prof Ojiambo in her statement on January 5, 2020.

Prof Kiama, who had previously served the university as deputy vice-chancellor in charge of human resource and administration since February 2019, would take over from former VC Prof Peter Mbithi for a five-year term effective January 6, 2020.

However, in a gazette notice, the late Prof Magoha revoked the appointment of Prof Kiama as the new Vice Chancellor of the University of Nairobi.

He went ahead to dissolve the university council and appoint former Deputy vice chancellor in charge of Finance, Planning and Development Prof Isaac Mbeche as acting VC.

Kiama would have to rush to court to secure his appointment and was fortunate to be reinstated to his position by the Employment and Labour Relations Court Judge Maureen Onyango.

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