A court on Thursday ordered the Kirinyaga County government to pay Deputy Governor Peter Ndambiri’s former personal assistant Sh240,000 for unlawful dismissal on allegations of soliciting money from contractors.
Judge Nzioki wa Makau of the Employment court found that Mr Kennedy Muriuki was sacked unlawfully but ruled that he could not be reinstated as the position was no longer available.
Mr Makau also noted that the matter was "extremely sensitive" and required mutual trust.
Mr Muriuki was employed on September 8, 2017, his duties including maintaining Mr Ndambiri’s diary and handling correspondences and enquiries.
He also managed the deputy governor's appointments and other affairs of his office including setting up meetings.
He was suspended on April 6, 2018 for two weeks pending investigations over issues the county termed "areas of concern" and unethical conduct in relation to soliciting favours from persons seeking to do business with the county.
The Public Service Board later issued Mr Muriuki with a letter of termination of employment, saying he was dismissed effective March 13, 2018, prior to issuance of the suspension letter.
In court, Mr Muriuki said the suspension and subsequent dismissal were unlawful and unreasonable as he was neither given a reason nor summoned by a disciplinary committee to respond to the allegations.
Kirinyaga said the suspension was an interim measure undertaken for reasons of good administration.
Through the Head of Human Resource Management, Tom Nyambisa Nyatika, the county said the suspension would ensure investigations were carried out without interference.
Mr Nyatike said it was reported that Mr Muriuki solicited money from contractors, purportedly to help them get tenders with the county.
He said the county then carried out internal investigations and forwarded the matter to the PSB once the allegations were proven.
The termination letter was then recommended.
However, Mr Nyatike said there were no minutes before the court to show the investigations were conducted.
The court further heard that Mr Muriuki failed to perform his duties as expected, prompting issuance of the suspension and termination letters.
The county said it was not under obligation to hold a hearing separate from the investigation.
In his ruling, Justice Makau found that according to evidence, Mr Muriuki was dismissed without adherence to the law and was therefore entitled to a declaration that the termination was illegal and unfair.
“To boot, the dismissal letter was effective March 13, 2018, which was way before the suspension to pave way for investigations. This is untenable,” he said.
The judge said the claimant was entitled to three months’ salary amounting to Sh198,270 as compensation for the unlawful dismissal plus costs of the suit amounting to Sh45,000, totalling Sh243,270.