The Meru University of Science and Technology Council has rescinded its earlier decision to send Vice Chancellor Prof Romanus Odhiambo on terminal leave. This is after Education Cabinet Secretary Ezekiel Machogu ordered Prof Odhiambo's reinstatement.
In a statement, the council chairperson Prof Bosire Mwebi said the appointment of an acting vice chancellor had also been revoked.
He said the council will facilitate the reopening of the university by Wednesday and ensure the graduation ceremony goes on as planned.
"After consultations with the Ministry of Education, I wish to state as follows regarding the recent events at the Meru University of Science and Technology...The Council will facilitate Prof. Odhiambo's immediate resumption of office before close of business on March 7, 2023," the statement reads.
The University Council appealed to staff and students to "remain calm and support the university leadership in discharging its mandate."
Earlier, Meru University protested the postponement of the 10th graduation ceremony that was to be held on March 11, and accused the University Senate of making a unilateral decision without consulting them.
The student leaders demanded that the management rescinds the decision and allow them to graduate.
Acting Vice-Chancellor Charity Gichuki ordered the immediate closure of the main campus at Nchiru and suspended the graduation ceremony following a Senate decision after students rioted for the better part of Monday.
Students' organisation president Kariuki Wachira said suspension of the ceremony will inconvenience the graduates who also lost time during the Covid 19 pandemic.
“This is unfair, not only to the graduands, but also the entire student population. During the pandemic they wasted a lot of time and they should be allowed to graduate so that they go out to look for work,” Mr Wachira said.
“Their decision, which did not involve the students, according to university rules, is null and void. We will continue protesting until our demands are met,” he added.
The students went on rampage Monday after the Council sent Vic-Chancellor Romanus Odhiambo on a 121-day terminal leave and declined to renew his five-year contract over what it termed as underperformance during his first term.
But Prof Odhiambo protested the move, saying the council's decision was political.
Students said Prof Odhiambo's performance was “exemplary” and demanded that the Council reinstate him without “further negotiations”.
“If you look at how he managed to take us through the Covid-19 pandemic without any complaints from the student population, you see a manager par excellence. What do they exactly mean when they talk of such a VC having underperformed? We want our VC back,” said immediate former students’ leader Hannington Oguk.
The students also accused the police of meting out violence on students by flushing them out of their hostels.
“We were holding our demonstrations peacefully but the police triggered violence when they started lobbing tear gas and beating us. We call upon Ipoa (Independent Policing Oversight Authority) to investigate the police for using excessive violence on us,” said Mr Gilbert Aluoch, a student.