Moi University to sue council over course rule - Daily Nation

Education council defies court over law courses ruling

Monday April 18 2016

Moi University in Eldoret. Moi University has threatened to sue the Council of Legal Education after being directed not to offer law courses again less than a week after the High Court nullified the agency's directive requiring it and Mt Kenya University from offering the programme. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA |

Moi University in Eldoret. Moi University has threatened to sue the Council of Legal Education after being directed not to offer law courses again less than a week after the High Court nullified the agency's directive requiring it and Mt Kenya University from offering the programme. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By OUMA WANZALA
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Moi University has threatened to sue the Council of Legal Education after being directed not to offer law courses, sparking a fresh row. 

A High Court ruling on April 4 nullified the council’s order requiring Moi and Mt Kenya universities to stop offering the courses.

In the Kenya Gazette notice published on Friday, the council insisted that the two universities would not offer the courses.

Council CEO Kulundu Bitonye said the only universities allowed to offer the courses were Riara, Kisii, Africa Nazerene, Nairobi, Kabarak, Egerton, Strathmore and Kenyatta.

In his ruling two weeks ago, Justice George Odunga said the council had no jurisdiction to withdraw accreditation of a university.

The judge criticised the council for violating the law when it issued the closure directive to the universities, adding that its role was restricted to setting standards.

According to the judge, the mandate of enforcing accreditation belonged to the Commission for Higher Education.

“The council’s role is advisory and to make recommendations. It has no powers to close down any schools,” Justice Odunga said.

The High Court also declared the council illegally constituted and ordered its remodelling in 60 days.

The Moi University administration says it will sue the council for contempt.

The Dean, School of Law, Maurice Oduor accused Prof Bitonye of getting personal in the way he was handling the licensing of universities teaching law.

“We are also seeking minutes of the board which authorised him to publish names of the universities. As far as we are concerned, there is no such board,” Mr Oduor told the Nation by phone on Saturday.

ELAPSED TENURE

Prof Bitonye is expected to appear before the parliamentary committee on education to explain why he ignored court orders and a letter from the President.

Committee chairperson Sabina Chege said the council would not be allowed to disrupt learning.

“We were waiting for the court to give its ruling and that has been done. Many students are suffering yet the one punishing them is in office illegally,” Ms Chege said.

In February, President Kenyatta’s Chief of Staff and head of Public service Joseph Kinyua wrote to the council, notifying it of the elapsing tenure.

“By the way of this letter, you are hereby notified that the tenure of the Council of Legal Education is capped at three years. A new board shall be reconstituted in due course,” he said.

The CLE board, where Attorney-General Githu Muigai is a member, dismissed Mr Kinyua’s directive.

The council said the amendments passed by Parliament, which capped CLE tenure to three years from four, did not affect the current office bearers.

“In light of the foregoing, we will be grateful to receive confirmation as to whether your understanding of the law in this respect is to the contrary to enable the council take appropriate steps,” Prof Bitonye wrote to Mr Kinyua.

In the amended Act, the President has the power to appoint the council chairman while the Law Society of Kenya would nominate two members instead of the current three.

Every public and private university would be required to nominate a member. Previously, it was only the public universities that did so.

The board is to have 10 members chaired by a person with at least 15 years’ experience in legal education and training.