The battle for the top job at the Kenya Airports Authority has landed in court with acting Managing Director Yatich Kangugo saying a suit seeking to have him removed from office is meant to bar him from competing for the post.
Mr Kangugo has told the court that an application by two airport parking attendants to have him sacked is “meant to advance ulterior motives”.
“The applicants’ notice of motion lacks merit and has no basis in law but only driven by malice purposely to deny me the opportunity to participate in the forthcoming recruitment of the managing director of the Kenya Airports Authority,” he says in court papers.
Mr Kangugo has found himself in the eye of a storm after the two parking fee attendants moved to court to compel the parastatal board to sack him for events that occurred in 2013 when he was general manager of the Moi International Airport, Mombasa.
Mr Jared Odimo Odhiambo and Ms Grace Nasongo also want Mr Kangugo declared unfit to hold public office.
They say they had moved to court after the KAA board refused or neglected to act against Mr Kangugo in the face of a High Court judgment.
The judgment followed an altercation between Mr Kangugo and an airport parking contractor in which attendants had been hauled before the chief magistrate’s court in Mombasa at his behest.
The attendants in turn moved to the High Court – petitioning that the criminal prosecution be quashed – which found that they had been maliciously handled and prosecuted.
Buoyed by this judgement, the two gave the KAA board 30 days to investigate Mr Kangugo over the matter or they would move to court to seek redress.
They have made good their threat and they now want the court to compel the board to act against Mr Kangugo.
They have separately requested the Director of Public Prosecution to order investigations into whether Mr Kangugo broke the law during the incident.
The altercation took place in March 2014 when a driver of Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala sought to access the Moi International Airport in Mombasa without obtaining the temporary access card.
The temporary access card is obtained by drivers to the airport on entry and has an electronic time stamp that determines how long one has spent in the premises and which is used to calculate the parking fee on exit.
The attendants employed by airport parking ticketing company Mason Serviced Ltd, which has been retained by the Kenya Airports Authority, engaged in an altercation with Mr Balala’s driver on March 8 and March 10, 2014, according to court documents.
In both instances, the CS was present in the vehicle but is said not to have uttered a word.
The company is contracted by KAA to charge parking fee and earn a commission while passing the rest of the revenue to the parastatal.
Mr Kangugo now accuses the plaintiffs of defiance, harassing members of the public and neglecting to obey lawful orders.
After the March 10 altercation, the incident was reported to the office of the general manager at the airport who happened to be Mr Kangugo.
He subsequently ordered that the two parking fee attendants involved in the altercation, Mr Odhiambo and Ms Nasongo, be barred from accessing airport premises or risk arrest.
High Court Judge Anyara Emukule found that Mr Odhiambo and Ms Nasongo were not informed of the decision and when they turned up for work a couple of days later, they were arrested and charged in the Mombasa Chief Magistrate's Court on March 4, 2014 with disobeying a lawful order.
The two employees moved to the High Court seeking to quash the criminal prosecution.
They told the court that they had not been informed of the ban and that their prosecution was “ill-motivated arising from differences” between their employer and the general manager at Moi International Airport.
Judge Emukule found that KAA and Mr Kangugo had breached the rules of natural justice and quashed the prosecution of the two.
In the current suit, Mr Kangugo says he has rendered “diligent, distinguished and exemplary service” to the authority for 20 years without any complaint or disciplinary action being brought against him and sees the case as part of a well-choreographed scheme to stop him from being appointed to the coveted position of KAA boss.
The case will be heard on March 10.