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Ex-PS Lilian Omollo awarded only Sh1 for unfair dismissal

A judge has ruled that the removal of former Youth and Gender Principal Secretary Lillian Omollo from the government’s payroll was unconstitutional.

And for the breaching of her rights, the Employment and Labour Court Judge Stephen Radido has ordered the government to pay Ms Omollo Sh1. Yes, you read it right, one shilling.

“The petitioner was not subjected to due process, nor was she given reasons for the removal from office under the hand of the President. She was ingeniously notified that her tenure had ended because a replacement had been appointed,” Justice Stephen Radido said.

The judge said that civil servants have a legitimate expectation that being public officers, due process as envisaged under Article 236 of the Constitution would be observed in the process of their removal from office.

The judge, however, said that because Ms Omollo, who is currently battling corruption charges, was found to have unexplained wealth, the amount awarded was adequate compensation for the violation of her rights.

Ms Omollo has already filed an appeal against a decision of the High Court which found that the more than Sh33 million she held in various accounts were proceeds of crime.

She had sued the government through the Cabinet Secretary for Ministry of Public Service and Gender arguing that she was still presumed innocent and was entitled to half-pay, as the corruption case proceeds before a magistrate.

Ms Omollo had been appointed PS for Public Service and Youth in December 2015. In 2018, when she was charged with corruption among other offences, she was notified of her suspension on half-salary pending the finalisation of the criminal charges.

In May 2020, the Public Service CS wrote to her that her appointment had lapsed with the employment of a new Gender PS. She moved to court, seeking among other orders, that the revocation of her appointment be ruled unconstitutional.

She also sought service gratuity at the rate of 31 percent of the basic remuneration package for the term served and restoration of all her withheld salary and allowances for the years under suspension.

Ms Omollo also sought general damages for the breach of her constitutional rights and the right to legitimate expectation.

In reply, the government said being a presidential appointee, Ms Omollo held an office of public trust, and because she had been charged with corruption offences, she was suspended as expected under Section 62 of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act.

“Once a person has been appointed as a Principal Secretary, he or she becomes a public officer. As such public officer, the Principal Secretary becomes entitled to the protections assured all public officers by Article 236 of the Constitution,” the judge said.

The article states that a public officer shall not be dismissed, removed from office, demoted in rank, or otherwise subjected to disciplinary action without due process of law.