A Law Professor at the University of Nairobi has been given an ultimatum to quit his high-paying job over his relationship with Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader, Raila Odinga.
In a fresh legal battle, Prof Ben Sihanya has been directed to choose between being a don at the university or quit and serve the ODM party where he is the chairperson of the disciplinary committee, a post he was appointed to in August 2020.
The intellectual property and constitutional matters lecturer has been battling to keep both jobs with Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) challenging the decision.
Sihanya moved to court to challenge the 14-day ultimatum to quit his lecturing profession or drop his political ambitions.
Justice Mathews Nduma agreed with the EACC, saying a lecturer at a public university is primarily remunerated and paid benefits out of money provided by Parliament.
“It follows, therefore, that the 1st petitioner (Prof Sihanya) is prohibited under Section 12 of the Political Parties Act, and Section 23 of the Leadership and Integrity Act to hold office in a political party,” the Judge ruled.
Sihanya told Justice Nduma that there was no conflict at all with him remaining as a lecturer and the ODM appointment since serving as the chairperson of the disciplinary committee was not elective.
He further added that he is not barred from expressing his political opinions and affiliations even as he serves in a plum post in Raila's party.
“Holding the office of a lecturer at a public university and at the same time holding an appointed office of a chairperson of a disciplinary committee on a dominant political party amounts to performing daily or continuous political activities that may be seen to compromise the political neutrality of the office or a lecturer,” Justice Nduma noted.
EACC also noted that his appointment to serve as an official in ODM breached the Political Parties Act and Leadership and Integrity Act.
“Following the above exegesis, and in answer to the issues above, the court finds that the action by the respondent in giving the 1st petitioner opportunity to elect to remain a lecturer at the University of Nairobi or opt to become the chairperson of the disciplinary committee was lawful, fair and just,” the Judge concluded.
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