Kemri boss firing illegal, says Senate

Tuesday, July 7th, 2020 00:00 |
Dr Joel Lutomiah.

Hillary Mageka  @hillarymageka

The sacking of Joel Lutomiah as the director of the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) Centre for Virus Research was hurried and unprocedural, a Senate committee has revealed.

 A report by the Senate ad hoc committee on Covid-19 situation further concludes that the grounds for Dr Lutomiah’s removal over  alleged failure to release Covid-19 test results to the Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe, was unlawful.

“The preliminary observation of the Committee is that the demotion of Dr Lutomiah was carried out in a rushed and unprocedural manner and did not comply with provisions of the Constitution,” the committee chaired by Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja said in its seventh progress  report.

Demotion justified

Lutomiah was demoted on April 17 by Kemri director general Yeri Kombe, reportedly on Health CS Mutahi Kagwe’s instructions, for delaying to release Covid 19 results.

In May, while appearing before the committee, an emotional Lutomiah blamed his woes on the ministry of Health acting Director General, Dr Patrick Amoth, and Dr Daniel Langat, the head of the ministry’s Department of Disease Surveillance and Epidemic Response Unit. He noted that he was condemned unheard.

However, Kagwe has distanced himself from the saga, explaining that the action was a “normal administrative issue” at Kemri.

“My understanding was that the individual was never sacked, but was just transferred from one department to another,” Mutahi told the National Assembly Health committee in April.

In the report, the committee said Lutomiah’s removal from the position violated the Fair Administrative Action Act (No. 5 of 2015), as well as various Guidelines, Protocols and Manuals governing disciplinary action.

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