Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Linda Okello challenges disciplinary action over dressing

   Corporal Linda Okello (left) has been at the centre of public debate after this picture of her in a tight skirt at a KCB rally ran in a newspaper. FILE

Corporal Linda Okello (left) has been at the centre of public debate after this picture of her in a tight skirt at a KCB rally ran in a newspaper. FILE 

By MAUREEN KAKAH
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Corporal Linda Okello is seeking a declaration that the disciplinary proceedings against her alleged “untidy mode of dressing” were unprocedural and aimed at embarrassing her.

In her suit papers, Ms Okello claims that she was subjected to an unfair, unreasonable, skewed, flawed and unlawful inquiry into an alleged offence against discipline.

The Kiambu County Traffic Police-based corporal claims in her suit that she was charged with appearing on duty untidy in her clothing, contrary to the National Police Service Act, 2011, yet none of his supervisors had ever made complains regarding her dressing.

Ms Okello suit is against the National Police Service Commission, Inspector General of Police and his deputy.

“The action was an intent of tormenting and embarrassing her as the purported disciplinary hearing proceedings were flawed, unprocedural, tainted with malice, illegality and had nothing to do with law or discipline,” said her lawyer from Tom Ojienda firm.

According to the lawyer, all the four witnesses failed to tender evidence that pointed to the default on her part or in support of the charges against her and instead exonerated her from any wrongdoing.

She further claims that the complainant, Kiambu OCPD Stephen Ngetich, was not present and did not send a representative officer on his absence to explain the evidence of the alleged offence.

“Linda is just like any other Kenyan citizen and is entitled to the due process of law, the orderly proceedings ought to have adhered to rules of natural justice in the manner it was conducted,” said her lawyer.

On April 27, Linda was on duty in Kiambu where the KCB National Rally Championship was being flagged off.

She was to be at the station for two days and had to report after a briefing which none of her supervisors raised any issue regarding her uniform.

The following day April 28, she was notified by her friends about her picture on a local daily newspaper.

She was then summoned to present the worn skirt for inspection and defects after being booked at 4.00pm in the Occurrence Book for disciplinary action.

PAIR OF TROUSERS

Linda alleges she complied with the summons and her skirt was declared to be in order and a directive was made that she be given two new police pairs of trousers.
But the May 7 charge indicated that she appeared on duty “scantily dressed in police uniform” and was meant to appear before a Chief Inspector Mwarigha on April 30.

She honoured the summons but Chief Inspector Mwarigha disqualified himself on grounds that there was no cause of action warranting the disciplinary action.

The charge against her further stated that she was caught on camera wearing a tight skirt an act that caused hype, public debate in electronic, social and print media.

And on May 9, the orderly proceedings found no basis to give her a verdict or ask her to defend herself but the presiding officer failed to dismiss the charge or acquit her as well as tell her when to expect it.

VIOLATION OF RIGHTS

She claims the decision put her in an uncertainty and was a continued violation of her rights and was later directed to defend herself on May 26.

She claims she feared penalties would include being reprimanded, suspended, rank demotion or dismissal from the Police Service hence moved to court.

Although Industrial Court judge Lady Justice Maureen Onyango had on May 23 issued an order stopping the orderly proceedings which she attended, she wants court to declare the decision to put her on defence as erroneous and unlawful.

She also wants court to quash the OB entry of Aprl 28, the defaulter charge sheet and the orderly proceedings besides the sued parties being barred from punishing her.

“I have been a Police Officer for the last 11 years, I have maintained a clear record with no discipline issues and the charge is only meant to cause embarrassment, humiliation, indignity, mental anguish which I endured ever since I was booked for disciplinary hearing, my only crime was to dress in police uniform issued to me by the Force Quartermaster in 2003 which l’ve always put on for two years without any supervisors raising an issue until now, its worthy to note that the trousers are almost exact if not lesser dimensions as the skirt.” said Linda.

The case will be mentioned on June 11 for further directions on the declaration demand and whether the case will be withdrawn from court.

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