In what has turned out to be a case of unfair dismissal, Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu and the county government was on Friday ordered by a court to pay a sacked executive committee member about Sh1 million.
According to documents, Mr John Muneeni Makau was reportedly sacked over incompetence. In the details, Mr Makau had sought Sh22.3 million in compensation but Justice Monica Mbaru, of the Employment and Labour Relations Court, said the amount “was motivated by greed”.
Noting that Ms Ngilu and her government breached the law by failing to give the sacked Environment and Natural Resources minister an opportunity to defend himself, the court awarded Mr Makau that amount,
While stating that no court of competent jurisdiction can compel an employer to retain an employee it does not want, Justice Mbaru further declined to order Mr Makau’s reinstatement.
According to Mr Makau had said he was not given an opportunity to defend himself, as indicated in the petition.
Governor Ngilu and the Kitui County Government had been named as the respondents in the labour dispute.
The complainant successfully litigated that he was condemned unheard, which is against the rules of natural justice.
Stating that he was not performing his duties accordingly, Ms Ngilu’s lawyer, Mr Katunga Mbuvi, who also appeared for the county, presented evidence that the petitioner was a liability to the county.
While citing an incident where he allegedly obtained over Sh280,000 from a women’s group an action which forced Governor Ngilu to intervene, Mr Mbuvi further told the judge Mr Makau was lazy and was allegedly involved in questionable deals.
While opposing Mr Makau’s reinstatement plea, he cited previous unfavourable interactions with the county, including a tragic trip to Taita Taveta County.
Mr Makau was fired after three people died in an accident along Kibwezi-Kitui Road on February 4, 2020.
“Mr Makau was on an unsanctioned trip to TaitaTaveta County,” the lawyer said.
Using an official vehicle, yet it had not been sanctioned by the county government, Justice Mbaru said the claimant embarked on the journey. The county car collided with a boda boda rider ferrying three people. They all died in the crash.
Evidence presented to the court showed that the driver of the county government was drunk. He was charged and convicted.
Mr Makau defended himself against allegations that he and the county driver were heavily drunk when the accident occurred, saying the offender was charged in court.
Governor Ngilu’s lawyer pressed for the dismissal of the entire suit, saying “the demand for payment of Sh23,176,222 is tantamount to greed and the petitioner is not entitled to the claim”.
The judge ordered the respondents to pay Mr Makau Sh785,500 in damages and Sh262,500 being a month’s pay for notice, which adds up to Sh1,048,000.
As the matter was of public interest, the court ordered each party to bear its own costs.