Lake Basin Development Authority (LBDA) managing director Raymond Omollo is on the spot over Ksh100 million allegedly paid to workers retrenched 20 years ago.
The saga was hatched in June 2019, when he convened a meeting with the authority’s legal officials Mr Clifford Otieno and Michael Okuk in Kisumu.
This was after President Uhuru Kenyatta directed that all state agencies should clear their pending bills.
Seeing an opportunity, Omollo crafted an out of court settlement that would see a case for compensation that had been ongoing withdrawn.
The two, Okuk and Otieno, were instructed (by Omollo) to liaise with the human resource department to compile a comprehensive list of the 108 employees who had been retrenched in preparation for an out of court settlement.
However, Obiero voiced his reservations, since the suit was statute barred, meaning that the employees should have filed the petition within three years after being retrenched.
Consequently, Obiero was removed from the legal department to the administration department, since he was seen as a stumbling block to the plan.
Obiero successfully challenged the redeployment in the High Court, but unknown to him he was inviting trouble that would see him lose his job.
Mr Omollo defied court orders that required him to reinstate Obiero to his previous position, and instead ordered the security guards to bar him from accessing the offices in Kisumu.
Obiero was forced to resign on February 23, 2020, after being attacked by security guard on January 21, 2020, an incidence he reported at Kondele Police Station.
With the stumbling block out of the way, a retrenched employee, Samuel Opondo, would represent other 107 retrenched employees in withdrawing the case for an out of court settlement. LBDA was represented by Olel Onyango and Ingutia Advocates.
LBDA and the employees filed a mutual consent in the Labour Court in Kisumu before Justice Mathews Nderi, who allowed an out of court settlement.
The first batch of payments were done in May 2020.
However, it emerges that at least 16 employees are dead, and most of the retrenched employees who are alive have never been compensated.
A big chunk of the amount is said to have been pocketed by the officials.
When other former employees who were not compensated heard of the case and raised their voices, they were given between Ksh50,000 and Ksh200,000 and warned of dire consequences “if they caused havoc”.
Some of the retrenched have filed a suit in court, arguing that they never gave instructions for an out of court settlement. They say that the lawyer who represented them, Owala Advocates, acted without their consent.
A whistle-blower has already written to the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission to investigate the case.