SG for Kenya National Commission for UNESCO sued over misconduct, material non-disclosure


A lawsuit has been filed against the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO secretary general/CEO Dr Evangeline Njoka over misconduct, material non-disclosure.

In a certificate of urgency, the petitioner, Jeremiah Memba Ocharo accuses Njoka of having been recruited into the position by the Education Cabinet Secretary in a manner which was not competitive since the CS never followed the competitive employment procedures.

Njoka has allegedly been the CEO of KNATCOM for seven years, having been appointed irregularly to the position in the year 2013 and again offered another five year term in 2018.

KNATCOM is a state corporation under the ministry of education established by the Kenya National Commission for UNESCO Act 2013, to coordinate UNESCO activities in Kenya.

Through lawyer Dantsan Omari, the petitioner claims that Njoka failed to disclose to the board when offered a second term that she was due for mandatory retirement upon attainment of 60 years with effect from 3rd June 2020.

“It is also noteworthy that her second reign is now dogged in controversy, the shift in carrying out the Commission’s mandate has drastically changed and veered towards succession politics,” says Ocharo.

The petitioner aver that the respondent has consistently breached recruitment procedures which now signify a broken system that is likely to have ramifications on the way the public views the organization and the ability to attract high calibre professionals who will be motivated to seek employment.

He claims that a high level of internal hemorrhage of staff in senior management within the last two years, due to strife for their rights against the commission through the courts is alarming and warrants immediate intervention.

“Central to the downward trend has been unwarranted review of human resource instruments, which were undertaken between May and August 2019, in line with government directives,” Ocharo states.

The petitioner accuses the CEO of taking advantage of the directive to institute a series of confounding measures which included overseeing the abolishing of critical positions contrary to the Public Service Commission (PSC) Guidelines of 2015 on establishment and abolition of offices.

Lawyer Omari says there has been an increased number of court cases that have all been deliberated upon by the board indicative of an incompetent CEO who is incapable or resolving simple labour related issues but geared at supporting the unlawful decisions of the CEO.

The CEO is also accused of misappropriating public resources. It is alleged that in the FY 2019/2020 the Commission did not have budgetary allocation for legal services and Forensic auditors.

According to the petitioner, notwithstanding inexistence of any budgetary allocation for legal services and Forensic auditors, Njoka has gone ahead to procure legal services for each of five suites pending in the court each charging Sh 300,000 to Sh 400,000 per suit and the cost might rise up depending on the nature of the case.

She is also alleged to have procured a private forensic auditor to audit one Catherine Nyakoboke’s salary and allowances drawn from August 2018 to date for the reason known to herself and submit to DCI at a cost of Sh 564,300, an expenditure which was not approved by the Board of the Commission neither was it budgeted for.

Ocharo further claims that Njoka plundered the commissions meager resources by sponsoring her driver who was on terminal leave for retirement to attend the UNESCO General Conference of November 2019 for one-week at a possible cost of Sh 298,452 excluding air ticket. The driver had no meeting to attend other than sightseeing.

In addition, 1st respondent is said to have undertaken a managerial duty in a discriminatory manner by retaining the said driver beyond the mandatory retirement age of 60 years w.e.f December 2019 without PSC Authority yet she retired the Librarian on the same day.

“This officer will continue earning over 1 million shillings per annum for the next three years yet he holds a non-specialized skill job which is contrary to the law. This is differential treatment among employees based on ethnicity,” states the petitioner.

It is also alleged that on 17th September, 2019 there were uproars from the public over bribery allegations and complaints against Njoka and three other officials of the Commission.

Ocharo says that while disregarding conflict of interest, the CEO brazenly convened a board meeting which recommended the suspension of the three officers, pending investigation into possible offenses, disregarding the fact that she was also part of the allegations.

The Commission later sought legal advice from the Attorney General over the matter and in response, was advised that the Board possesses legal authority to take disciplinary action against its staff, however, such action can only be based on the existence of conclusive evidence subject to reference and applicability of the Human Resource Manuals, Fair Administrative Action and adherence to the Rules of Natural justice.

Njoka has allegedly kept intimidating the officers, members of the board; engaged in witch-hunt; misappropriation of funds all constituting gross misconduct that warrants removal from office.

In a statement to the Ad-hoc Investigation Committee of the Board, the CEO stated that she will not be in a position to work with the three officers if they were to be cleared by the Board which she vowed and continues to make it a reality.