How Maasai Mara University VC Prof. Mary Walingo Sacked Auditor for Doing His Work 

By The Weekly Vision Team

Judge Anna Moore in a ruling delivered on February 13, 2024, did point out how the Vice-Chancellor of Maasai Mara University, Prof. Mary Walingo, and the institution’s Council Chairman unfairly terminated the employment of a senior internal auditor, Moses Nyambega Ondieki ruling that he be compensated.

Mr. Ondieki served the university as a senior internal auditor from November 21, 2010, on permanent and pensionable terms, earning a monthly salary of Ksh. 245,272 until February 23, 2016, when he was unlawfully, unfairly, and maliciously suspended from employment on non-existent and never-substantiated allegations.

He was placed under suspension with half his basic salary and responded to the letter of suspension via a letter dated March 1, 2016, replying to every allegation made against his work. He alleged that he was wrongfully and maliciously suspended with the intention to punish him and cause trauma and maximum damage to his reputation as a professional. It was also revealed that the university advertised his position via an advertisement in the Daily Nation newspaper on March 24, 2017, despite not issuing him a letter of termination. During his employment period, the university, through incessant interference, deployed staff to his department without consulting him with the intention of compromising its independent oversight function.

In responding to the allegations that he failed to detect issues at the Kilgoris Learning Center, he stated that he requested facilitation in order to audit the centre, but the same was declined. Further, detective work was not a primary objective of the internal audit department. The Vice-Chancellor and the Council Chairman asked why he was auditing the institutional systems and demanded he not audit or verify anything concerned with the Chairman of the Council and the Vice Chancellor contrary to the internal standards issued by the Institute of Internal Auditors (IIA), advisories, and other relevant standards for accountants.

The VC and the Council chairman, in a quick rejoinder, claimed that Ondieki was suspended due to his incompetence and misconduct in discharging his duties but retained half his basic salary, full allowances, and other benefits. The university claimed Ondieki was incompetent and that he failed to follow due procurement procedures as he single-sourced the Student Management Information System (SMIS) software for the university without following procurement procedures.

It was also alleged that Ondieki was facilitated by the university to audit the satellite campuses and collaborating centres to the tune of Ksh. 153,500, but he did not submit any report of his findings, e.g., Kilgoris satellite campus. It is also alleged that he failed to detect an act of fraud and that he schemed with the former finance officer to hide suspenseful accounting documents. He is also accused of having written a letter to the ODPP concerning the forgery of cheques at the university in breach of protocol on his part.

The judge in his ruling noted that the VC and the chairman made several allegations about Ondieki’s misconduct; however, they did not produce before this court any report showing the findings of its investigations concerning the said acts of misconduct by Ondieki. “In view of the foregoing, the claimant’s dismissal was not substantively justified, and the long suspension was in opposition to fair labour practice.”

According to the ruling by Judge Anna Moore delivered on February 13, 2024, it reads in part, “Having established that the dismissal was both procedurally and substantively unfair, the court proceeds to render judgment in favor of the claimant and orders the respondent to compensate the claimant appropriately as hereunder.”.

For compensation for wrongful termination, the claimant is awarded 5 months of the equivalent of his salary, as follows: 245,272 x 5 = 1,226,360.

One-month salary in lieu of notice: Kshs 245,272.

Leave pay is one month equivalent to Kshs 245,272.