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Senior lecturer at JKUAT forced to return salary she earned in 4 yrs

A JKUAT senior lecturer’s application to prevent the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission from recovering over Sh7.8 million in salaries and benefits she received during her four and a half years as a part-time board member of the Kirinyaga County Assembly was denied by an Employment and Labour Relations Court in Nyeri.

After starting work on December 14, 2017, the lecturer’s monthly pay was Sh145,000, less allowances, from January 2018 through June 2022.

Justice Onesmus Makau concurred with the EACC’s conclusions that the lecturer was illegally receiving two incomes because she was employed by the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in his electronically delivered decision on December 20, 2023.

Given that the claimant was a full-time public officer working as a senior lecturer at JKUAT, Justice Makau concluded that she was ineligible for appointment as a part-time member of the Kirinyaga County Assembly Service Board.

As a result, the judge ruled that the complaint was not entitled to payment for her service on the board and denied her request to prevent the EACC from obtaining the money that the county assembly had given her.

The court said, “Finally, I have found that she was not entitled to the reliefs sought in the memorandum of claim dated August 2, 2022,” although she dismissed the lawsuit without awarding costs, stating that her hiring for the board was not solely her responsibility.

Other state and public officials who might be working two jobs at once are probably going to be impacted by the ruling.

The Leadership and Integrity Act and the Constitution both prohibit full-time state officers from holding any type of paid work.

The senior lecturer named the Salaries and Remuneration Commission as an interested party in a lawsuit against the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Authority, the County Assembly of Kirinyaga, and its clerk.

She argued in her memorandum of claim that since she had broken no laws or rules, the court should provide her full pay and benefits for her part-time work as an external board member of the assembly.

This came about after the EACC wrote the county assembly clerk on July 27, 2022, ordering him to stop paying her salary and gratuity benefits because her job on the board was irregular and illegal and because the payments were equivalent to double remuneration.

EACC requested that the lecturer’s claim be dismissed and that the Kirinyaga County Assembly reimburse her for all wages and benefits received by her between January 2018 and July 2022.

Summary of the narrative

The Speaker, a vice-chairperson chosen by the board, two county assembly members, and a man and a woman with public affairs expertise who are not assembly members make up the County Assembly Service Boards.

On September 16, 2017, the Kirinyaga County Assembly released an advertisement for the two positions on the board for external members. The lecturer applied, was selected through a competitive process, and received an appointment letter on December 14, 2017.

The EACC informed the court that the woman was not entitled to a salary or retainer because of her part-time position. However, she was entitled to sitting allowances for meetings she attended, lodging allowances, airtime, and transportation allowances.

Nonetheless, the commission stated that SRC notified County Assemblies and their clerks in a circular dated December 8, 2017, that among other things, it had reviewed the terms for external part-time board members and instituted a monthly remuneration of Sh145,000.

On January 8, 2018, the clerk notified the professor of the new development, but she made it plain that she was still a part-time member of the Board.

On July 18, 2022, the EACC informed the assembly clerk that it had started an inquiry into the complainant’s alleged misconduct and corruption and requested all pertinent papers to help with the investigation.

Citing violations of Section 27 of the Leadership and Integrity Act and Article 77(i) of the Constitution, EACC notified the clerk on July 27, 2022, to cease the JKUAT lecturer’s salary and benefits.

According to the law, a state officer who works full-time is prohibited from taking on any paid work.

Angry, the JKUAT lecturer went to court, claiming that she was condemned without being given a chance to defend herself.

Additionally, she claimed that since she was a public servant and not a state officer, the relevant law did not apply to her and that she was free to hold a part-time position on the board.

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