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UoN VC: Court suspends Magoha's decision against Prof Kiama

Monday January 20 2020

Prof Stephen Gitahi Kiama,

Prof Stephen Gitahi Kiama is pictured at the University of Nairobi during the launch of its council's strategic plan for 2019-2024. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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A court on Monday suspended Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha's decision to revoke the appointment of Prof Stephen Kiama as the University of Nairobi's Vice-Chancellor.

Judge Maureen Onyango, of the Employment and Labour Relations Court, also suspended Prof Isaac Mbeche's takeover as acting VC.

The orders will remain until a case Prof Kiama filed, through lawyer Fred Ngatia, is heard on February 5.

In protest against his removal from office, Prof Kiama sued the CS and the Attorney-General and listed the UoN, Prof Mbeche and the Public Service Commission as interested parties.


In filed case documents, Prof Kiama claims he was duly appointed in a letter dated January 3 to serve for a five-year term.


He adds that he lawfully began working on January 6 as per the Universities Act and the universities charter.

The professor says the revocation of his appointment was in total disregard of these facts and that it plunged the institution into total confusion, given another person was appointed to replace him.

“The decision is unfair, irrational, unreasonable, unlawful and an affront to several statutory as well as constitutional provisions, plus the right to fair labour practices,” Mr Ngatia says.


The law suit follows a back and forth over leadership of the institution following Prof Peter Mbithi's exit in July 2019.

Professors Mbeche and Kiama have both issued statements, saying they are in charge of the prestigious institution.

CS Magoha said Prof Kiama would continue dispensing his duties as the deputy VC in charge of human resources and administration, but he has held onto the top post.

The UoN Senate, students' association and its chapter of the Universities Academic Staff Union (Uasu) have backed CS Magoha's decision, citing the need to follow the legal process for appointing a VC.


UoN Council chair Prof Julia Ojiambo announced Prof Kiama's appointment earlier in January in a letter to university stakeholders.

In his announcement last Friday, however, Prof Magoha revoked the promotion, saying procedures were not followed, and dissolved the council.

The CS, a former VC at the university, immediately reinstated Prof Mbeche, the deputy VC in charge of finance, planning and development, as acting VC.

He later wrote to the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC), calling for investigations into the recruitment the PSC conducted on December 18, 2019.