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Court orders Judiciary to reinstate finance director

 Benedict Omollo. Employment and Labour Relations Court has ordered the Judiciary to reinstate him. [Evis Ogina, Standard]

Employment and Labour Relations Court has ordered the Judiciary to reinstate its former finance director Benedict Omollo.

Justice Monicah Mbaru in her judgment against the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) found that Omollo was wrongfully dismissed in 2015.

Some of the issues that informed Omollo's sacking were the Chief Justice's house, pre-fabricated court houses, and a lease for a building to house Court of Appeal judges.

JSC also blamed Omollo for allowances issued to Judiciary employees who travelled outside the country.

Justice Mbaru said JSC gave Omollo generalised claims that could not lead to a valid reason for summary dismissal.

The judge said that a disciplinary process is not a cosmetic exercise where an employer hangs an employee without giving them a chance to argue their case.

"In this case, going back to the notice to show cause dated June 23, 2014 the allegations thereof assessed fail to meet the threshold of fair and valid reasons leading to the sanction of summary dismissal of the claimant from his employment as the director of finance, Judiciary," said Justice Mbaru.

The judge also called out the commission for discriminating Omollo based on his tribe.

In his case, a senior judge who is also a commissioner told him that the Judiciary had many Luos in management and some had to go.

According to Justice Mbaru, the commission failed to crack the whip on the commissioner after Omollo reported the issue. She said that the termination can be directly related to the comments made by the commissioner.

She said: "It is therefore direct discrimination against a person where his ethnicity is applied against him in zest or gusto particularly where matter is stated by a public officer serving as commissioner in JSC, the body given constitutional mandate to discipline officers in the Judiciary."

In the case, Omollo claimed that the commissioner had once threatened him but nothing was done.

Omollo claimed that during another meeting, the same commissioner told him that he had to go after he (Omollo) told the commissioners that they had exhausted their budget and a trip to Columbia could not be accommodated.

According to Omollo, the judge told him if there was no travel, then he had no job.

He argued that other persons who were required to approve the projects and money that were central to his dismissal were never sacked or charged.

Omollo lamented that his applications to the Compassion UK and the United Bible Societies were all rejected owing to the allegations leveled against him.

He also said that he ended up in the dock, accused of stealing Sh80 million, the same money he was a whistleblower for. He narrated that he detected the fraud and informed the former Chief Registrar of the Judiciary. He was charged and the case is still pending.

JSC in its response argued that it was justified to fire him. The commission argued that it conducted a disciplinary hearing and a corporate decision was taken to terminate his employment.

Justice Mbaru ordered JSC to pay Omollo Sh9 million as his salary from the time he was fired. At the same time, she awarded him Sh2 million as general damages and ordered JSC to reinstate him on the same terms he held when they fired him.

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