Court of Appeal reinstates KEBS’ National Standards Council members

KENYA – The Court of Appeal has reinstated members of the Kenya Bureau of Standards’ (KEBS) National Standards Council (NSC) who were fired after their appointment was annulled in July due to allegations that they were not chosen in a competitive process.

The three-judge panel of the Appeal Court determined that Kenyans would be at risk of receiving substandard goods in the absence of NSC members.

The NSC is tasked to develop standards, authorize, certify, and grant permits for all manufactured, imported, and local produce in order to make sure that they adhere to set standards, as mentioned by Justices Asike Makhandia, Jamila Mohammed, and Hellen Omondi.

“This is a clear case of public interest prevailing over individual or personal interest. The appeal will further be rendered nugatory as the applicants will have to be replaced as the institution cannot run without substantive office bearers,” the judges said.

Maureen Onyango, the Employment and Labour Court judge revoked the nomination of Bernard Ngore as the Chairman of the NSC and members Rogers Ochako Abisai, including the CEO of KEBS Bernard Njiraini, among others, in July.

According to Justice Onyango, it is unlawful to appoint a public officer or member of a state corporation in violation of the rules, as reported by Business Daily.

She stated that they were handpicked contrary to the law, yet the process should be open to public participation.

Okiya Omtatah, a Human Rights Activist and current Busia Senator, had also argued that Mr. Njiraini was not subjected to a transparent and merit-based process claiming that he came in sixth position during the interviews for the job, hence did not deserve the position.

The KEBS Management saga has been a back and forth affair with no clarifications of who’s in charge. On Njiraini’s ousting, Esther Ngari, Director of Standards and Trade, was appointed to  assume the position in an Acting capacity over a 6-month period.

“I hereby appoint you as the Acting Managing Director to the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) with effect from 27th July 2022 for a period of 6 months or until the Court of Appeal determines or stays the judgement of the High Court, whichever is earlier,” read part of the letter written by Ms. Betty Maina, Cabinet Secretary for Industrialization, Trade & Enterprise Development.

However, even after this public declaration, Mr. Njiraini has still been on the limelight running the organisation’s affairs as its Managing Director.

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