JUSTICE TABARO TRIBUNAL FURTHER STRIKES MAKERERE AFTER ORDERING UNIVERSITY TO PAY LECTURER MILLIONS OVER UNFAIR DISMISSAL
By Mulengera Reporter
Dr Juma Anthony Okuku, a Senior Lecturer at Makerere’s Department of Political Science at the School of Social Sciences under the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHUSS), is a happy man following the Staff Appeals Tribunal’s ruling that ordered management to reinstate him to work with immediate effect and to pay him all the money he has missed in salaries since his dismissal in late 2018.
In December 2018, Makerere threw out at least 40 lecturers, including Okuku who was accused of failure to award marks and release results for the Urban and Rural Development course unit he facilitated in the second semester of the 2016/2017 academic year. Okuku, represented by lawyer Isaac Ssemakadde, argued that he had unearthed gross malpractice, and realised that most of his class had returned poor results, prompting him to suggest to his 400 students to take another course work, something they refused to do, meaning that the lecturer had no marks to submit to the registrar.
The Justice Patrick Tabaro-led tribunal faulted Makerere University for unfairly dismissing Okuku and for contempt of court since the Appointments Board’s disciplinary committee held proceedings to throw him out despite a High Court case on the same matter. The tribunal ruled that members of the University’s Directorate of Legal Affairs such as Esther Kabinga had misled the Appointments Board to ignore the court case. It also faulted the board for harshly punishing the Okuku, who has taught at Makerere for 35 years and is due for retirement.
“Quasi-judicial administrative bodies such as the Appointments Board are held to a high standard concerning the obligation to act fairly. This is because the consequences of their decisions can materially and adversely affect the employees, as was the case in this instance where the appellant was dismissed from his permanent and pensionable employment. From the foregoing, it is clear and apparent that the appellant was not accorded a right to a fair hearing. The Appellant was not allowed to enjoy his right to a fair administrative hearing,” reads the ruling in part.
“The Tribunal does not condone incompetency or inefficiency or any other acts which are likely to injure the name or reputation of the institution. However, we note that the punishment imposed on the appellant of dismissal from the University Service was harsh and excessive.”
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