Egerton VC suspended as varsity Council opens up investigations on claims of graft

Mr Tom Thompson, the associate dean and director of international programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech University, USA (l) with Egerton University vice-chancellor Professor Rose Mwonya during the signing of a six years partnership deal in agricultural research and development, at Egerton University, Njoro on June 21, 2017. [Photo: Suleiman Mbatiah/Standard]

Egerton University Vice Chancellor Prof Rose Awori Mwonya has been suspended pending investigations into procurement malpractices, a students' scholarship scandal among other numerous allegations of mismanagement. 

At the same time members of the University Council have appointed Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs Prof Alexander Kahi to act in the position until internal investigations into Prof. Mwonya’s conduct are completed.

Prof Kahi confirmed to the Standard that he has received a letter from the council directing him to act as the vice chancellor of the university.

“I have a letter from the council signed by Mr Joshua Otieno, one of the council members directing me to act as the Vice Chancellor,” Kahi said without divulging any further details.

Mwonya also confirmed to the Standard that she has been suspended but said she was yet to receive the suspension letter.

"I am hearing the same. Let me get the letter first please," she wrote in a text message to this writer.

Sources told the Standard that Mr Otieno chaired the council session that arrived at the decision to send Mwonya on compulsory leave pending the outcome of the investigations.

It is said the council chairman Dr Ben Chumo did not attend the meeting over issues related to the ongoing court case facing him over his previous employment.

The decision to suspend Monya was unanimously agreed up by Dr Charity Nyaga, Joshua Otieno,  John Ondari, Esther Mukoa Wabuge and Mrs, Alasa Osman Hirsi- who are all council members.

Mr Ondari confirmed that Mwonya has been suspended but was quick to add that the council has commenced internal investigations into the alleged gross misconduct.

“It is true that the council met and made some decisions, which include what you (reporter) are inquiring. We have told her take a compulsory leave to allow us investigate the allegations,” Ondari said.

The suspension of Mwonya was long overdue  following numerous complaints from representatives of university workers who wrote several letters to the council accusing her mismanagement of funds, misplaced priorities, lack of  visions for the univeristy among other issues.

Mwonya is accused of authorizing construction of a Sh70 million gate at the Njoro campus, which was never a priority for the institution that was facing serious financial problems.

Under her watch, the university authorized the construction of an electric fence at the cost of Sh44 million, which has never worked since its installation about an year ago.

She is also facing allegations of pumping a whopping Sh180 million on the institution’s Ngongongeri farm in Njoro, with no returns.

The stroke that broke the camel back was the scandal involving scholarship for students, which was allegedly orchestrated by one senior official at the university with the full knowledge of the vice chancellor.

The council will be investigating allegations that some students who were not eligible to be admitted for government sponsored degree programs , found their way to the university after being ‘assisted’ by the senior official who was sometime back suspended by the council over the issue.

Mwonya made history when she was appointed the first-ever female Vice-Chancellor of Egerton University — the esteemed 76-year-old institution of higher learning that was elevated to a full-fledged university in 1987.

 Mwonya took over from Prof James Tuitoek in 2015 to become the fifth vice-chancellor of the institution that currently has four campuses and 25,000 students.