The supremacy battle that has been raging at Turkana University College for over a year now reached its crescendo with the principal Thomas Akuja having been ordered to proceed on compulsory leave to pave way for investigations which have since commenced in earnest against him.
“During a special council meeting held on Wednesday January 29 2020, the Turkana University College Council resolved to send you on compulsory leave with immediate effect to pave way for the relevant government agencies to investigate allegations and/or possible actions of corruption and abuse of office, gross insubordination and conflict of interest,” the letter, a copy of which is in our possession states.
The letter, further accuses Akuja of alleged financial impropriety and/or misappropriations, and flouting of procurement procedures and regulations. It is dated January 29 2020, and signed by chairman of council, Mussolini Kithome, with copies to, among others, cabinet secretary George Magoha, principal secretary State Department for University Education and Research, Simon Nabukwesi, ministry of Education legal adviser Kirimba Machogu.
Others are Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology Chancellor Peter Muthoka and Mmust chairman of council Jeremy Bundi.
And in a swift rejoinder, Akuja, who was directed to hand over the institution management to the deputy principal in charge of academics Fredrick Kassilly acknowledged having received the letter from the council and confided to this writer that he was more than prepared to battle it out. He said as he prepares to hand over, he was consulting with his lawyer on how best to counter the allegations leveled against him.
For more than a year now, the college has been caught between a rock and a hard place following cold war that has been simmering between senior officers of the management and members of university council. A senior academic at the college who talked to the press but declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, was point blank in describing the Kithome-led council as a “rogue council”.
He told your favourite Weekly Citizen that it is a council that does not want to have anything to do with mentoring of an institution. “The council is full of insatiable lust for meetings, yet nothing significant is resolved at the end of the day,” he added.
The academician confided that the fight against Akuja was instigated by the council’s lust to conduct several meetings so as to pocket more allowances, explaining that the principal allegedly fell in trouble when he pleaded with them to reduce the sittings which the budget could not accommodate. He said the council had previously clashed with the founding acting principal Egara Kabaji just because he had told them that the 173 meetings scheduled during the period were too many as compared to available budgetary resources.
Observers opine that members of council under its chairman Kithome, may have panicked and arrived at the decision to bundle out the principal on realising that their contract will be coming to an end in the next two months, and therefore, accelerated their fight with the principal whom allegedly they viewed as a thorn in their flesh to be axed before their term ends in March, this year.
Sources divulge that the bad blood between the council whose members include Justus Wambutura, Nixon Mageka, Salome Mwendar, Sophy Kirorei, Mele Joseph, and Paul Mwangi and the principal started when the latter decided to cancel the contracts of the then acting deputy principal by Stephen Odebero, and administrative assistant, Beatrice Ondago.
Council had in a letter to Akuja dated March 22 2019, warned, among other things, of dire consequences against the principal including disciplinary action for not towing the line as its employer.
The latest communication dated January 22 2020, Kithome further warned the principal of disciplinary action if he will have not complied with a directive from Education ministry that the duo above be reinstated without much ado.
Even as council and Education ministry had been sucked into the matter to have Odebero reinstated, the latter is currently before Employment and Labour Relations Court, Eldoret, Case No 1247/2018, in a case coming up for hearing on February 19 this year. Odebero who was on secondment from Mmust in Kakamega, wants the principal’s letter that sent him packing be revoked to allow him continue working at TUC.
He is represented by Victor Ayieko who in his application filed under certificate of urgency, accuses Akuja of not having locus standi to remove Odebero from Tuc back to Mmust and that the action was discriminatory, an abuse of power and violation of the Employment Act Cap 226 Section 5 (1) viii.
And in an interview with some of the local people who included manambas, motorcycle riders and some of the students, they appeared to have been shocked by the actions taken by both Council and Education ministry, saying they were in total agreement with the decision by the principal to send Odebero and Ondago packing.
The locals said they will not allow Odebero back at Tuc and that they are behind the decision taken by the principal, a scientist by profession, with more than 30 years in the academic world.
And asked for comment, Prof Akuja was conservative with his words. He said apart from liaising with his advocate, he is at the same time communicating with officials in Education ministry and hoped his prayers will be answered, adding that he is a mere victim of circumstances.
“In fact, a female council member is the cause of the problems we are having at TUC,” he told this writer, adding that although with very little understanding of how universities work, the council seemed to rely so much on her, probably because she is a schemer who enables them organise many meetings and pocket more allowances.
The principal said he had differed with the council after realising that most of members of council lacked principles.
“For instance, the chair does not seem to have a stand, cannot call his members to order leaving them to run amok as he does not guide them as to provisions of the law and government regulations,” he said.
He further accused members of council of acting as ‘executive’ or part of Tuc management team and in so doing; they had allegedly been interfering in the institution’s operations by dealing directly with members of staff instead of going through the principal.
Joho works on Coast 2022 lineup – Weekly Citizen
Mombasa governor Hassan Joho has renewed his war against Coast elected leaders who are perceived to be supportive of William Ruto’s 2022 Presidential bid. Currently, Kwale Governor Salim Mvurya is under siege from hostile MCAs suspected to be under instructions of Joho through county speaker Sammy Ruwa.
Ruwa has been a longtime Joho sidekick and has also acted as his legal adviser in the past. He has been fronted for governor seat twice but rejected. He is speaker for a second term. Towards the end of Mvurya’s first term, he has been a Ruto man. He has no time for Joho, insisting Kwale is not an extension of Mombasa county. In the last general elections, Joho had vowed to ensure Mvurya was defeated at the ballot. But this was never to be after the Mombasa governor fell out with Chirau Mwakwere who was a sure bet against Mvurya on the then popular ODM ticket.
After Mwakwere bolted out of ODM to Wiper, Joho turned to little known Issa Chipera as party candidate. Chipera literally became minced meat for Mvurya who easily beat him and made a comeback on a Jubilee ticket. Mvurya is grooming his deputy Fatuma Achani to succeed him in the next general election but observers say this is a tall order. Joho on the other hand is reportedly pushing Crop Development PS Hamad Boga for the Kwale seat against Mvurya’s candidate and Mwakwere. Another Ruto man on Joho’s radar is Kaloleni MP Paul Katana. Recently, the legislator was discharged as a member of the parliamentary investment committee in actions said to have the Mombasa governor’s hand.
Ironically, Katana was Joho’s PA when he served as Kisauni MP. But it appears other than fighting Katana for aligning himself with Ruto, he never wanted him to be MP in the first place. In the 2013 general election when Katana first contested and lost to little known Gunga Mwinga, there were allegations that ODM insiders had rigged him out. Currently, Joho is said to be financing the political activities of Mwinga to undermine Katana in the constituency. Katana has said severally that his cooperation with Ruto is because of the handshake between Raila Odinga and President Uhuru Kenyatta. “I’m a loyal member of ODM with full respect to my party leader. I also support the handshake and that is why I have been working with DP Ruto to further development in my constituency,” the legislator was quoted as saying.
He has also said his cooperation with Ruto is not for selfish reasons but for the benefit of his constituents. He says the DP has presided over high profile funds drives towards public projects in his constituency. The MP says some of the people fighting him have never assisted Kaloleni to move forward but wants leaders who can bootlick them.“I’m independent-minded and I work for the interest of my people who elected me and have no time for sycophancy,” Katana says. Mohammed Ali of Nyali constituency and a close ally of the DP is another one whom Joho is scheming against. He is pushing his cousin Said Abdalla aka Saido against the Jicho Pevu.
Jicho Pevu’s recent rising political profile after he filed a motion to impeach transport CS James Macharia over chaos at Mombasa port has alarmed the Joho camp. In spite of the rejection of the motion by Speaker Justin Muturi, Ali has become a hero in Mombasa. Last week, pro-Joho Mombasa MPs led by Mvita’s Abdulswamad Nassir were doing damage control. They toured the port and pleaded with the KPA management to put out a notice affirming that usage of SGR for containers upcountry was optional. This was meant to cool the heat against them after residents began collecting signatures to recall them for failing to support Jicho Pevu motion. Another Joho political foe Aisha Jumwa of Malindi constituency is politically wounded and the Mombasa governor no longer cares what she does or says. The Malindi MP’s self-inflicted woes have dimmed her 2022 Kilifi governor bid.
Fresh political formation in Siaya ahead of 2022 – Weekly Citizen
There are plans afoot to drop Alego Usonga MP Samuel Atandi from a leading role in Senator James Orengo gubernatorial campaign team. Observers point that the surprising decision was reached after it became clear that the controversial legislator was no longer appealing to the majority of voters.
There were earlier reports of an inside analysis conducted within Siaya senator campaign inner circle that hinted the disadvantages of trusting the MP with a major role yet he was also facing stiff opposition from notable politicians in the region. The development debate comes hot on the heels of a video that went viral showing the evidently intoxicated legislator dancing suggestively during a house party attended by women, as his Gem counterpart Elisha Odhiambo cheered. Weekly Citizen has established that political formations are already regrouping in Siaya ahead of 2022 general election and a section of political leaders including top ODM party officials from Alego Usonga are not happy with Atandi’s quick move to front Senator Orengo for the county’s governorship.
Area governor Cornell Rasanga has confronted the lawmaker on a number of occasions describing his early campaigns in support of Orengo as a lack of respect for his office. The protest by the governor sparked off an anti-Atandi wave as he was immediately joined by a host of formidable politicians from Alego Usonga in castigating the MP accused of overstepping his political mandate. The local ODM party leadership led by Alego Usonga branch chairman John Orwenjo, and secretary Paul Jura reaffirmed that the party had crowned Rasanga as their bona fide patron and it was, therefore, his duty to offer political direction on matters regarding his successor. The Orengo-led group which also brings together Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo and his Rarieda counterpart Otiende Amollo has been roundly accused of leading early full-scale political activities at the expense of development.
MCAs chairman Sylvester Madialo warned Atandi to stop creating confusion among voters, adding he should hold his horse and wait for the party whistle to be blown or prepare to equally lose his seat at the ballot. The leaders including Township MCA Obiero Otare, Vincent Odawa (North Alego), Judy Okumu (West Alego), Joseph Mboha (South East Alego), and Winnie Otieno (nominated) have loudly questioned how Atandi would deliver for Orengo when he is standing on a politically shaky ground. It is claimed that the Siaya senator blocked Atandi from using his chopper to escape from a crowd that turned rowdy during a food distribution to flood victims in his constituency. It is reported that trouble started after the MP barred Usonga ward MCA Madialo from addressing his voters after the food distribution. People with disabilities who had attended the event reportedly bayed for his blood after he gave them a paltry sh100 prompting Orengo to deny the lawmaker a chopper ride in fear that associating with him would jeopardize his 2022 governorship bid.
Rogue Kisumu NGO’s money minting gimmicks – Weekly Citizen
Various stakeholders and residents of Kisumu county have called upon Nyanza regional police commander Noah Mwivanda and his DCI counterpart Daniel Kipsoi, to investigate the activities of the chairman of an NGO called Magnum Environment Network Michael Nyaguti. The NGO, it is claimed, is a briefcase one with no donor funding surviving fully on extortion and threats. By last week, a victim was planning to institute private criminal charges against the NGO.
They are accusing Nyaguti of extortion and blackmail of people under the guise of encroaching on water catchment areas and flouting environmental laws failure of which he always resorts to going to courts as an interested party of the said social vice. One of the victims narrated that sometimes back, he was developing rental houses near Lake Victoria and had been given all the required documents from the county, Nema, and all relevant authorities to commence his work only for Nyaguti to appear menacing at the site with a group of people he called officials of Magnum Environment Network accompanied by some people who looked like police officers who demanded that I show them documents in regard to what I was doing. Most developers ranging from real estate to hospitable industries are saying that they are really undergoing rough times in the hands of the said Nyaguti who on most occasions is accompanied by some rogue police officers who intimidate and threaten their respective targets with arrests. The said Nyaguti had sometimes back attempted to extort Sh5 million each from former governors Evans Kidero and Jack Ranguma, together with a senior leading civil servant under the guise that they had bought land which should have been part of Lake Victoria.
When the trio was adamant that they would not give him any money, he sued them saying they had encroached on wetlands. The same Nyaguti also sued the Kisumu county government and Nyanza Golf Club which he accused of reclaiming the wetland at the mouth of River Kisat without convening a public participatory forum, as part extortion antics but his bid has fallen on deaf ears. He had also sued Kenya Ports Authority, Kisumu after the parastatal had ordered beach management units out of its land after collecting thousands of shillings from the said victims. Recently together with other activists, they stormed Western offices of Kenya Wildlife Service demanding that they investigate a ring of cartels believed to be working in cahoots with officers to defraud victims of wildlife attacks of their compensation. After his request was rejected, he called a meeting in Kisumu with some of the victims who had not been paid and tried to convince them to give him the power of attorney so that he could press them for their payment. Efforts to get Nyaguti’s comments were fruitless while a senior KWS officer said that they have a clear policy on how KWS compensates. “KWS has no agreement with anyone to peruse payments,” he said.