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Court ends procurement head dispute in Kilifi County

By Willis Oketch | May 9th 2016

KILIFI, KENYA: Industrial court has declared Matano Riziki Choge as the Head of Supply Chain of Kilifi County Government after a protracted two year legal battle with the former office holder.
Justice Onesmus Makua made this ruling last Friday after dismissing an application of Kevin Kigen Kieti who had petitioned the court to nullify Choge's appointment for allegedly not being qualified during the interview.

Kigen had argued that Choge did not have a degree during the interview to qualify for appointment in line with the advertisement for the job. He claimed Choge had no valid degree to be selected by the Kilifi County Service Board for interview.

Choge had replied that although he had not graduated during the interviews, he had, dully completed his undergraduate degree studies and certified by the Senate of Jomo Kenyatta University of Advanced Technology to have passed all his examinations and qualified for an honours degree. On Friday the court rejected Kigen's argument and ruled Choge was lawfully appointed and eminently qualified for the job.
"After carefully considering the rival contentions by the two sides, the court finds balance of probability that Kilifi County Public Service Board was right in employing Matano Riziki Choge as the Head of Supply Chain Management of the County" said Justice Makau
He said the constitution was very clear about employment in which it stresses that the basis for appointment and promotion was fair and merits subject to adequate and equal opportunities at all levels.
Initially Choge was Kigen's deputy. Kigen who was seconded to the post in Kilifi by the Transitional Authority in 2013 did the interview to be confirmed as the Head of Supply Chain Management.
He filed the case on 19 May 2013 after appointment of Choge as Head of Supply Chain complaining he had been discriminated.
But the case delayed upon which led to contempt proceedings against Kilifi County Secretary Baya Owen in November last year.
The contempt proceedings was later dropped after the parties agreed to settle in out of the court paving way for the hearing after the Public Board entered appearance.
The judge concurred with Kilifi Public Service Board members who considered Choge as a person from a minority group of Miji- Kenda who deserved the appointment despite having been number four in an interview where Kigen emerged the best.
"The court is satisfied that the appointment of Choge was proper and lawful and in consonance with the constitution both in the manner of procedure and merit" said Justice Makau.
They made this ruling following an application of Kigen who wanted the appointment of Choge nullified on grounds that he did not have a degree and was number four out of those who were interviewed.
Kigen complained that the Kilifi Public Service Board had discriminated him despite having emerged as the best candidate during the interview.
He says before going to court he was seconded to Kilifi County through Transitional Authority of Kenya as Head of Supply Chain Management to set up structures of procurement.
Kigen said during the exercise he appointed Choge as his deputy and after a shortwhile the same post was advertised in which both of them did an interview where he emerged the best.

However to his surprise Choge was appointed which made him to go to court. During the hearing Kigen insisted he was the best qualified for the job.
"To my surprise the appointment was given to Choge who was ranked fourth in the interview" said Kigen
He claimed Choge was not qualified because at the time of the interview he had no degree as was a requirement in the advertisement.
The Public Service Board's Secretary Rosalia Shida Nyale testified that as a board there was nothing wrong they did because they followed the law.
She said among the law they followed included considering Choge as a person from Kambe a minority tribe among the Miji Kenda.

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