Relief for three clerics in gay row as court orders ACK to reinstate them

ACK Archdeacon John Njogu Gachau (center) Rev Paul Mwangi Warui (right) and Rev James Maina Maigua (left)celebrate outside the Nyeri Law Court on September 9,2016, after Justice Bryam Ongaya ordered the church to reinstate them.Three priests were suspended on allegations of being homosexuals on August last year.PHOTO:KIBATA KIHU/STANDARD.
A labour relations court in Nyeri has ordered the Anglican Church of Kenya (ACK) to reinstate three clergy kicked out of the church on allegations of homosexuality.

The Employment and Labour Relations court further ordered the church to compensate the priests with Sh2 million each for the psychological trauma they endured and their accrued salary arrears from August 2015 when they were sent packing.

Yesterday, Justice Byram Ongaya found that Archdeacon John Njogu Gachau, James Maigua and Paul Warui’s dismissal from the church was unfair.

The trio sued ACK and its trustees following a purge that saw them kicked out of the Mt Kenya West parish on claims they engaged in homosexual acts.

SEE ALSO :Bishops want rogue clerics punished

A tribunal set up by the parish bishop Reverend Joseph Kagunda found them guilty of the sexual offences and revoked their licences to officiate over church events.

Their counsel Moraa Onsare said the priests were not accorded an opportunity to defend themselves. But Archdeacon Gachau, who was second in command at Mt Kenya West Diocese, told the Judge that the distasteful allegations arose from his long standing rivalry with the bishop.

However, the church argued that the priests sued the wrong entity. They claimed the ACK trustees were an investment arm of the church and did not employ or transfer any clerics. In its judgment, the court held that the priests were employed by the church, thus it was the proper party to be sued. Archdeacon Gachau was  adversely mentioned in gay sex scandal that shook the ACK Mt Kenya West Diocese last year.

He was accused of having sexual relations with a 20-year-old former evangelist at St Andrew Anglican Church, Kagongo Parish in Othaya, Nyeri County, in December 2013.

Three other cleric friends, James Maina Maigua, Simon Wanarua Kiige and Paul Mwangi Warui, all of whom had been summoned to the tribunal were also dismissed. The church questioned the close relationship between Archdeacon Gachau and the three junior clerics.

SEE ALSO :Clerics fight to regain control of the pulpit from politicians

But yesterday, Justice Ongaya ruled that the church had not followed the disciplinary procedure in terminating the priests.

He questioned why despite the criminal nature of the offences, the church did not instigate charges against the priests.

The judge ordered the church to pay them Sh2 million each for the excruciating predicament they underwent from their dismissal and the manner the scandalous allegation were made public.

As a result, Archdeacon Gachau will receive Sh2,437,780 from the church, while Rev Maigua and Warui will get Sh2,224,996 and Sh2,219,814 respectively. The trio have another matter pending in the court where they have sued Bishop Kagunda for defamation.

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