Police prevent disbanded CA board from holding meeting

Friday February 19 2016

Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) Director-General Francis Wangusi (left) during a media briefing at the authority's offices in Nairobi on January 7, 2016. The CA is exploring ways of increasing contribution towards the USF fund, including subsidising by 50 per cent the fee for setting up base stations in rural areas. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) Director-General Francis Wangusi (left) during a media briefing at the authority's offices in Nairobi on January 7, 2016. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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Embattled Communications Authority of Kenya board members were Thursday stopped from holding meetings at the regulator’s headquarters on Waiyaki Way, Nairobi.

Five of the board members, led by Mr Kipsang Choge were locked out of the premises as two administration police kept vigil.

Missing at the scene was director-general Francis Wangusi, who flew to Geneva. Board chairman Ben Ngene Gituku was out of office.

Mr Kipsang had summoned his colleagues to a meeting to discuss ‘disruption of board programme and activities and resultant litigations’.

“Owing to the purported disruption of board programme and activities and resultant litigations, thereof as well as the crucial board meetings set for Thursday 18, February 2016, the board members of the authority hereby instruct that you as the director-general of the authority do not take any out of base /country travel until the ensuing brewing issues are resolved,” read a letter by the board members to Mr Wangusi copied to the board chairman.

Did not take off

Nonetheless, the police ensured that the meeting did not take place.
The third floor office that hosts board members and Mr Wangusi was kept locked for three hours until they left.

“Mr Choge had no right to go into the CA premises without a court order. The industrial court stopped the recruitment process but did not order them back to office,” said Mr Ngene on phone. “The Industrial Court cannot give orders over a constitutional matter.”

The board accused ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru of ordering the police to stop the meeting, despite the CA being an independent authority by law. Mr Mucheru did not answer his phone to give the Daily Nation his stand on the issue.

Two of the seven board members; Ms Beatrice Opee and Prof Levy Obonyo said they were not involved in proceedings to get the board back in office, despite their signatures having been on court papers forwarded to the industrial court.

The board battles got worse when Mr Mucheru withdrew Court of Appeal proceedings that had put the team in office (after a High Court ruling disbanding it) following Attorney-General Githu Muigai’s advice.

Be restrained

However, some board members moved to the Employment and Labour Relations Court, where Judge Nelson Abuodha suspended a Kenya Gazette notice of February 5 that declared the positions vacant.

“That the respondents (Communications Authority and CS Joe Mucheru) be restrained whether by themselves, their servants or agents or any of them or otherwise howsoever from declaring the petitioners’ positions at the Communications Authority board vacant,” said the order served to Mr Mucheru.