Court suspends appointment of an acting Bomas CEO

L-R - Bomas of Kenya C.E.O, Mr. Peter Gitaa, Ministry of Tourism Cabinet Administrative Secretary (CAS) Mr Joseph Boinet, Tourism & Wildlife CS Najib Balala, Tourism Principal Secretary Safina Kwekwe & Chairman of the Bomas of Kenya Board Josiah Magut cutting cake to mark Bomas @ 50. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Employment and Labour Relations Court in Nairobi has blocked the Bomas of Kenya board from appointing an acting Chief Executive Officer to replace Peter Gitaa.

Gitaa was suspended following a recommendation by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

Justice Ann Mwaure in her orders issued on Thursday temporarily suspended a notice by the Bomas board issued Wednesday calling for a special general meeting to appoint a new person to act on behalf of Gitaa while on suspension.

“Prayer no 2 of the notice of mention is granted and will be effective till December 5, 2023, when this application will be heard as well as the application dated November 21, 2021. Costs will be in the cause,” ruled Justice Mwaure.

Gitaa joined the list of officers who have challenged their 12-month suspension. 

Separately, Kenya Transmission Electricity Company (Ketraco) General Manager Anthony Wamukota, who was also suspended following an EACC recommendation also challenged it in the same in court.

Bomas CEO’s lawyer Danstan Omari argued that the recommendation by the EACC was marred by irregularities and procedural flaws.

According to the lawyer, the board’s move was to ensure that the case filed in court is overtaken by events.

Omari stated that his client was bound to suffer as there was no reason to keep him in the cold for a year.

According to the lawyer, there is no law or human resource manual that grants the government or parastatal powers to suspend an employee for more than six months.

Instead, he asserted, the law is clear that EACC should investigate a claim within 12 months.

He accused Bomas board of being a conveyor belt of an illegality.

“The decision of the fifth respondent to immediately, abruptly, and disgracefully implement the impugned decision of the first respondent is tainted with malice and choreographed to defeat the ends of justice,” argued Omari.

In his supporting affidavit, Gitaa said that the special board meeting followed a directive that was issued by the Ministry of Gender, Culture, Arts and Heritage Cabinet Secretary Aisha Jumwa.

Further, he said that the directive to suspend him was passed by Jumwa on November 20, 2023.

“Unless this honorable court moves with celerity and arrests the illegalities and injustices occasioned by the respondents, the applicant shall suffer irreparable harm as their right to equality before the law, fair administrative action and labor rights will be curtailed,” said Gitaa.

Last week, Head of Public Service Felix Koskei announced the suspension of some 74 public officials pending a probe by the EACC.

The group included six state agencies Chief Executive Officers, 67 police officers, and an accountant at Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA).

Koskei’s statement sent by State House Spokesperson Hussein Mohamed indicated that the EACC was investigating Gitaa for alleged procurement irregularities in supplies.

However, in court, Gitaa stated that the whole process was flawed and against his right to a fair trial.

“My suspension is marred with illegalities and procedural irregularities and thus constitutes a direct contravention of my constitutional rights to  equality before the law, fair administrative action, and fair trial,” said Gitaa