The two, Jacinta Mugure Kiguru and Joan Kariuki Wanjiru, are students of the Catholic University East Africa (CUEA) who were charged with attempting to bribe their way onto a graduation list late October 2016 at a whopping KSh820,000.
They were arrested on October 27, 2016, after CUEA administrators blew the whistle and the DPP recommended that they be charged at the Milimani Chief Magistrate’s Court on November 17, 2016.
After being suspended from the university, they lodged a recourse citing double jeopardy, illegality, irrationality and procedural impropriety which they have won against the institution after a judge ordered they be re-admitted in school unconditionally.
The judge further directed that disciplinary action against them be henceforth stopped on grounds that the institution violated their rights under Article 47 and 50 (2) (c) of the constitution by not exhausting internal disciplinary mechanisms before handing them over for prosecution.
They had been suspended for 4 academic trimesters!
“I find that the rights of the applicants were violated…(they)ought to have been given sufficient time to prepare their defence,” Justice Hedwig Ong’udi said faulting the institution for having suspended the students without giving them the reasons for doing so.
The judge said CUEA Students hand book provided for the mechanism of punishing errant students.
“The procedures set out in the disciplinary mechanisms must be exhausted before any action is taken. If not, then what are the procedures for?” she posed.
Justice Ong’udi said the institution had all the machinery for handling the issue and that “there was no emergency that required them to make an overnight decision.”
“This was a matter that occurred at the university and involved students and an administrative officer in the institution, even before taking the complaint to EACC, what steps had the deputy registrar taken? Did he ever report to the deputy vice chancellor or interrogate the matter with the administration before reporting it to EACC?” the judge posed.
Varsity had tools
She said that the CUEA did not act diligently in handling this matter as a result of which the applicants find themselves where they are.
The judge said the university “had the tools with which to act but decided to lend them to others to use to their own detriment.”
The two are alleged to have offered the money to Deputy Registrar of Academic Affairs Caleb Opwora. a day before graduation day at the main campus in Nairobi.
CUEA applied an internal disciplinary process and the two students were invited through letters by the Deputy Vice Chancellor Academic Affairs and Research Professor Kaku Sagary Nokoe to show cause why they should not be punished for their conduct.
Prof. Kaku Sagary Nokoe later wrote a letter dated November 9 2016 to EACC to withdraw the case since the institution was dealing with the issue internally but the request(s) to EACC and the DPP is yet to be responded to.
Reply at daybreak
The students claimed they had not been given sufficient time to prepare their defence at the disciplinary committee as the cause to show letter was received at 5.00pm November4 2016 and a reply demanded of them at daybreak, an argument the judge concurred with.
In seeking a double reprieve the students in their submissions said EACC preferred unwarranted charges as other disciplinary mechanisms had been effected, and that a section of the bribery laws had not come into existence when they were charged but the judge rejected the overture.
She instead directed that only their suspension letters dated November 24 2016 for August 2016/2017 to December 2017 ( four academic trimesters!) be quashed.
She has further compelled CUEA to re-admit the students with immediate effect.
Mugure and Kariuki are out on a bond of KSh300,000 each.