Judge throws out case against Laikipia governor
What you need to know:
- The six, hired by former Governor Joshua Irungu, were forced out of office by Mr Muriithi for incompetence.
- Their lawyer Kibe Mungai explained that the acts of the governor amount to blatant illegalities and contempt of the rule of law.
The Employment and Labour Relations Court has dismissed a case in which members of the Laikipia County Public Service Board sued Governor Ndiritu Muriithi for interfering with their work.
Justice Nzioki wa Makau allowed Governor Muriithi’s preliminary objection to the suit and ruled that the board and the governor do not have an employee-employer relationship.
He added that the petition should have been filed in the High Court.
The six, hired by former Governor Joshua Irungu, were forced out of office by Mr Muriithi for incompetence.
Through lawyer Kibe Mungai, they sued the county government, Governor Muriithi and the County Assembly, arguing that their constitutional rights to fair administrative action had been infringed.
But Justice Makau said the petition, in its substance, is not about employee and employer relationship, but a matter of the enforcement of fundamental rights purely within the purview of the High Court.
“This is the wrong forum and as such I lack the requisite jurisdiction to entertain the petition as it is not an employment matter,” the judge said.
The petitioners - board chairperson Mary Mutonyi, Naftali Githua (vice chair), Geoffrey Maina, Esther Nyaguthii, Adan Mohammed and Petro Santa - indicated that they were entitled to a non-renewable term of six years ending on August 2019.
The board members said the governor had illegally locked their offices in Nyahururu town.
“The petitioners were evicted from their offices by the combined acts of county government and the governor and sponsored mobs purporting to be aggrieved residents of Laikipia,” lawyer Mungai said.
“They were evicted from office and barred from accessing it by changing the locks to the offices,” he added.
He explained that the acts of the governor amount to blatant illegalities and contempt of the rule of law.
“The eviction from the office through a combination of public lynching by the governor, sponsored public demonstrations, blocking of access to their offices by protesters and changing of locks amount to illegality.
"The board members have not been removed according to laid down legal provisions and procedures,” Mr Mungai said.
Ms Mutonyi said the governor has privately and publicly questioned loyalty of the board as constituted.
“Despite their constant assurances that by law they are enjoined to faithfully serve government of the day subject to maintaining the constitutional independence,” said Ms Mutonyi.
She further indicated that the governor has adopted a privately and publicly hostile ‘antagonistic attitude’ towards the staff recruited by his predecessor.
“The board was opposed to outsourcing of a private firm named Delloite to recruit Chief Officers but the governor directed them to outsource services. The move was in contravention of County Governments Act. The refusal triggered considerable annoyance of the governor towards the board,” Ms Mutonyi said.
When calling for dismissal of the petition, the governor submitted that the board members cannot sue in their own name but should have sued in the name of the county Public Service Board, which they were members.
But the petitioners argued that the issues for determination related to whether the court had jurisdiction to determine the petition and the application.
The petitioners submitted that the threshold for a preliminary objection was not met in some grounds of the preliminary objection by the respondents.