Court Reinstates Suspended KeRRA Employee Who Bought Sh279M Houses In Days

by Lawyer Alex

A state official accused of acquiring Sh279 million houses in four months in 2019 has won a reprieve after a judge overturned her suspension saying her former employer had no authority to do so after she was deployed to a different ministry. 

Justice Matthews Nduma ruled that the suspension of Margaret Wanja Muthui by Kenya Rural Roads Authority (KeRRA), over claims of benefitting from illicit funds, was wrong because the agency had already transferred her to the Ministry of Infrastructure.

The Judge noted that the suspension was made while a case filed by Ms Muthui, challenging her transfer from the agency, was pending before the Employment and Labour court.

“The Court will at the outset state that KeRRA cannot continue to have its cake and eat it. In Petition E027 of 2021, KeRRA has successfully pleaded that it lawfully deployed the petitioner to the mother Ministry of Transport.

Having done so, and whilst the matter was subjudice pending determination, KeRRA cannot at the same time purport to exercise its authority as an employer of the petitioner,” the Judge said.

The judge said KeRRA ought to have waited until the determination of the petition challenging her transfer.

The deputy director at the agency was suspended following claims that she benefitted from kickbacks from tenders from road contractors and acquired more than 35 apartments in 2019 when the Central Bank of Kenya announced the withdrawal of the old currency notes.

KeRRA had defended the suspension saying it was fair arguing that since she holds a public office and was under investigation, it is only fair and just until the case is determined. 

The agency said it cannot retain her in the office while facing serious allegations relating to corruption and economic crimes.

Before the suspension, Ms Muthui had on two occasions fought the bid to transfer her. The first case was when she was moved in 2017 to the Performance Management and Coordination under the Presidency. 

She won the case when the court ruled that the transfer was wrong and a few months back to her office, she was again directed to report to the principal secretary in the ministry, where she was to oversee procurement.

Ms Muthui went back to court only to be suspended by KeRRA over the corruption case. 

Justice Nduma said in the decision that to the extent, that KeRRA deployed her to the ministry from February 10, 2021, the agency was no longer her employer and the suspension letter was therefore null and void.

ARA says Ms Muthui purchased the apartments herself or through proxies and a company whose directors were mostly her relatives or proxies during the demonetisation period.

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