Court quashes suspension of Ketraco boss

Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Limited boss Anthony Wamukota. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) suffered a major blow after the Employment and Labour Relations Court quashed its push to have Kenya Electricity Transmission Company Limited (Ketraco) boss out of office.

Justice Byrum Ongaya on Monday found that the suspension of Ketraco General Manager Anthony Wamukota was illegal and unprocedural.

 The judge observed that Ketraco admitted that it did not follow the laid out human resource policy manual.

According to the Judge, EACC had no role or powers to interfere or dictate how the authority operates.

Justice Ongaya said the suspension amounted to a summary removal from office as Wamukota was neither summoned nor required to appear before any panel.

“ The prayers in the petition therefore succeed and a finding is hereby issued that the suspension of the petitioner was irregular, unprocedural, illegal and unconstitutional hence null and void ab initio (from the beginning),” he ruled.

Wamukota argued that he was neither summoned nor required to appear before a disciplinary committee.

At the same time, the court heard that the government-owned corporation’s board had no power to suspend the Ketraco boss since there was no disciplinary issue before it.

The court heard that Ketraco Board flouted the human resource rules requiring him to be heard first.

Wamukota's lawyer Moses Sikuta argued that the Employment and Labour Relations Court has powers to hear the case as his client was allegedly condemned unheard.

 Dr Sikuta asserted that the objection raised by Ketraco was defective. He stated that the issues raised by the corporation did not comply with the law.

Further, the lawyer questioned the suspension letter’s dates. Sikuta noted that while the board met on November 15, 2023, the letter was dated November 23, 2023.

He said EACC was trying to circumvent orders issued in favour of his client before the High Court in Nairobi.

Wamukota argued that the High Court barred the agency from either summoning or suspending him over the claims.

Sikuta said that Ketraco’s disciplinary committee never met or summoned Wamukota. He asserted that the corporation’s board jumped the gun at the behest of the EACC.

Further Sikuta accused EACC of sneaking a letter demanding that Ketraco immediately suspend Wamukota for 12 months to pave the way for investigations into the Loiyangalani-Suswa transmission interconnection (II) line project.

There was no complaint or allegation against Wamukota, said Sikuta.

“Every person has a right to lawful and fair administrative action. The process was tainted with illegality and it was procedurally unfair. We pray that this court finds the suspension to be unlawful and unconstitutional. We pray that this court lifts the suspension,” argued Sikuta.

But Ketraco and EACC urged the court to strike out the case.

Ketraco’s lawyer Patrick Lutta told the court that there is no disciplinary issue between his client and Wamukota.

“Therefore there is no employment dispute for this court to determine,” said Lutta.

The lawyer said Wamukota was suspended because the EACC was investigating him in relation to the Loiyangalani project.

“ There is no issue of discipline. This is about recommendations and following the law. There is nothing to determine in the petition if it is heard on merit,” argued Lutta adding that this was meant to secure the investigation process.