National Biosafety Authority CEO Roy Mugiira suspended over alleged funds misuse

Dr Roy Mugiira. He has been suspended as the chief executive officer of the National Biosafety Authority.

Photo credit: File

National Biosafety Authority (NBA) Chief Executive Officer Roy Mugiira has been suspended from office over alleged misappropriation of funds and interference with the constitution of the authority's board of directors.

The disciplinary process against Dr Mugiira began on June 6, 2024, when the board requested an explanation for several instances of financial impropriety at the authority.

In a statement to newsrooms, Dr Mugiira is alleged to have tampered with the investigation into claims of misappropriation of funds by the board.

He is accused of pushing for the removal of two board members at the same time the inquest into his conduct was ongoing.

 "The board has noted that you have and continue to actively interfere with the board composition to frustrate the disciplinary process against you… and succeeded in having Directors Dr Roselida Owuor and Mr Abduba Dabassa, who were actively involved in your case, removed and replaced as members of the board," reads the statement.

According to Prof Jenesio Kinyamario, the chairman of the NBA board, Dr Mugiira's actions went against regulations 10.8.1 & 10.8.2(c) and 10.10 of the NBA Code of Conduct and Ethics on integrity and conflict of interest.

 "The board considers your above actions to be gross misconduct for which severe disciplinary is contemplated over and above the ongoing disciplinary process," reads the letter addressed to Dr Mugiira

 Dr Mugiira will be away from the office for the next three months to allow for the disciplinary process to conclude but will be called upon to answer audit queries for the previous financial year.

Confirming his suspension, Dr Mugiira on Wednesday told the Nation that he could not comment further on the development, saying that the matter was being handled administratively.

 The suspended CEO was appointed in  February 2022 while the authority was still on freeze following a 10-year ban on the country's sale, importation and growing of genetically modified crops and foods.

That same year, an executive order by President William Ruto lifted the ban on GMOs in the country and NBA was in the process of popularising and expanding research on GMO crops and foods like maize and cassava.

BT Cotton is the only commercialised crop in the country.

However, an ongoing case at the Court of Appeal over the country's capacity to deal with GM crops and foods is stalling some of the authority's activities.

As Dr Mugiira serves the suspension, Mr Nehemiah Ngetich, who serves as the director biosafety research and compliance, takes over in an acting capacity.

Mr Ngetich joined NBA in 2012 as a biosafety inspector. He is currently pursuing his PhD in plant ecology at the University of Nairobi.