National Oil MD Sumayya Athman is on the spot again after a court ordered compensation for a former employee dismissed for questioning the parastatals procurement processes.
The managing director who had been suspended by the board over alleged financial losses was later reinstated under unclear circumstances as the restatement was announced by the Deputy President William Ruto at the coast.
Mr Paul Masinde Simidi worked for Nock as the internal audit manager on a three year renewable contract effective October 18, 2006. He was confirmed through an appointment letter dated September 25, 2007.
According to court filings, Mr Simidi’s job description included evaluation of Nock’s internal controls, risk management and governance processes.
In his affidavit, he indicated that on November 24, 2010, he prepared and submitted an internal audit report to Nock’s board audit committee where he cited the company’s non-compliance with the provisions of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act 2005 with respect to procurement, receipt and inventory management of oil products and acquisition of petrol stations from Total Kenya Limited.
On March 25, 2011 he also submitted another internal audit report to the audit committee which highlighted irregular payment of Sh967,260 to Reliable Concrete Limited and other irregular payments to various contractors in the sum of Sh2.7 million and Sh116,830 being retention money to Mass Petroleum Limited.
He also raised the issue of contract variation at the rate of 187 per cent of the original contract on account of Prowalo Co Limited.
In addition, he said that he raised lack of cost leadership in the operations departments and a litany of alleged corruption cases within Nock.
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On May 23, 2011, Mr Simidi said he received a first warning accusing him of breach of confidentiality and integrity and leakage of confidential and vital company information to unauthorized persons.
He was also accused of victimizing employees through reactive audits, witch hunting, abuse of office, causing fear and anxiety in the company and contributing to staff exits. Mr Simidi was consequently suspended and later interdicted.
Nock in a replying affidavit sworn by then acting human resources manager Cecilia Kalungu on January 30, 2014 argued that it was unnecessary to enjoin Ms Hassan in the case as at the time she represented Nock in the capacity of managing director.
Nock also said that although Mr Simidi prepared internal audit report as part of his employment obligations, “the contents of those reports, their adoption and implementation remained part of Nock’s internal processes and the reports were to be interrogated and scrutinized for accuracy and veracity before being acted upon”.
Employment and Labour Relations Court judge Linnet Ndolo said that the court failed to understand why Mr Simidi was not taken through the internal disciplinary process set out in law and Nock’s internal rules.
“Whatever motivates the respondents (Nock and Ms Hassan) to disobey their own decisions, this is a classic case of corporate governance thrown out of the window and a hapless employee caught in the mix. This is a mark of impunity in a public body which must be firmly discouraged,” said justice Ndolo.
Nock could pay up to Sh6.2 million to Mr Simidi for wrongful dismissal.