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Court bars state corporation from firing two staff accused of forgery

Friday June 05 2020
Gavel

The gavel. PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By BRIAN WASUNA

Kenya National Commission on Unesco (KNATCOM) deputy chief executive David Otiato and chief accountant Catherine Nyakoboke have secured court orders barring their dismissal.

This follows allegations that they forged a recommendation letter to help Ms Nyakoboke secure employment at the state corporation.

Justices Hellen Wasilwa and Byram Ongaya issued the orders following two separate cases by the two seeking to stop investigations into the allegations.

Mr Otiato has been accused of helping Ms Nyakoboke forge a recommendation letter from her former employer, AVIC-Shatui, to secure her current job in 2018.

KNATCOM had initiated disciplinary proceedings against the two.

“The application (by Ms Nyakoboke) is hereby certified as urgent. KNATCOM be and is hereby injuncted against the applicant’s services pending hearing of this application inter partes or until further orders of this court,” the judges ruled.

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Justice Wasilwa ordered the parties to appear before her on Wednesday for hearing.

The scandal is also threatening to create a rift between the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP).

Mr Walter Oyugi, the man whose signature appeared on the recommendation letter, filed a complaint with the DCI in Kasarani saying he never signed the document. After concluding investigations, the DCI handed the report to the ODPP.

Absurdity

On May 25, Assistant DPP Christine Nanjala wrote to Kasarani DCI officer Charles Kanyuira, terming the recommendation of the forgery charge as an absurdity because the two accused – Mr Otiato and Ms Nyakoboke – would be required to testify against each other. She also questioned why there was no statement from the KNATCOM board.

The DCI has maintained there is sufficient evidence to sustain the forgery charges.

The KNATCOM board has, for the past few months, been in limbo on whether to investigate the allegations and wrote to Attorney-General Paul Kihara Kariuki and Solicitor General Kennedy Ogetto over the matter.

In November last year, Mr Ogetto told KNATCOM through a letter that some board members had been adversely mentioned in the allegations, which would create a conflict of interest if the state corporation opted to initiate disciplinary action.

Mr Ogetto, however, recommended that the corporation report the matter to the DCI, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the State Corporations Advisory Commission for further action.

KNATCOM reported the matter to the EACC, which is conducting investigations.

In his case before Justice Ongaya, Mr Otiato insists an ad hoc committee found he was culpable for the forgery claim. He is currently on compulsory leave and has asked the High Court to order KNATCOM to recall him.

Sh500,000 bribe

Ms Nyakoboke’s estranged husband, John Oundo, told detectives that Mr Otiato had paid a Sh500,000 bribe to secure Ms Nyakoboke’s employment.

KNATCOM’s human resource manager told detectives that the state corporation sent Ms Nyakoboke and Mr Otiato on compulsory leave after confirming from both AVIC-Shantui and Mr Oyugi that the document was not genuine.

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