Activist in court to challenge Uhuru’s choice for KeNHA boss
The appointment of Winfrida Ngumi (pictured) as the chairman of the Kenya National Highway Authority (KeNHA) is now headed to the courts after a petitioner moved to challenge it on grounds that it was not through a competitive process.
Ngumi was appointed to chair the KeNHA board by President Uhuru Kenyatta four days to the August 9, 2022 General Election, replacing Eng Wangai Ndirangu whose contract was yet to expire.
Petitioner Raphael Muema, a human rights defender, moved to the Labour and Employment Court claiming the appointment was unconstitutional as that of his predecessor, Wangai was never nullified.
Muema has listed outgoing Cabinet Secretary for Transport and Infrastructure James Macharia, under whom the roads agency lies, Attorney General Kihara Kariuki and KeNHA as respondents in the case.
Also, listed as respondents are KeNHA board while Wangai and Ngumi are listed as interested parties.
Wangai, who was fished from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) where he had been a lecturer, was appointed to the position by Uhuru on November 12, 2019 for a period of three years, and was eligible for an extension of one term.
But the president, in a gazette notice dated August 5, promoted Ngumi, who had been serving as a KeNHA board member.
Now Muema is seeking to have the appointment of Ngumi declared “unlawful, null and void” and consequently quashed, arguing that he is aggrieved by Macharia’s decision that he describes as “an administrative absurdity” because Wangai’s appointment is still in force since no revocation had been issued.
Muema argues that Wangai’s three-year tenure in office was scheduled to end on November 22, 2022 and as a result “two occupants are holding the same position”.
Ngumi was appointed alongside several people into various State boards among them Jas Bedi who was appointed as a Non-Executive Chairperson of the Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency Board for three years, Capt. Paul Rukaria (the Board of Directors of the Kenya National Trading Corporation), Col. (Rtd.) Noor Musa (Board of the Kenya Fisheries Service), Phyllis Wakiaga (Kenya Roads Board) and Eng. Charles Mugo Chiuri (Board of the Kenya Urban Roads Authority).
But Wangai and KeNHA, in their replying affidavits filed court had maintained that the former’s appointment was done within the law.