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Court upholds sacking of extortionist Epra manager


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Court upholds sacking of extortionist Epra manager


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Summary

  • The Court of Appeal has upheld a decision by the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) to sack its head of security on claims of extorting over Sh800,000 from various dealers.
  • The bench comprising of justices Daniel Musinga, Gatembu Kairu and Sankale Ole Kantai allowed an appeal lodged by the energy regulator, set aside the lower court’s judgment and substituted it with an order that Mr Sigura’s dismissal was lawful.
  • It found that Mr Sigura was given an opportunity to defend himself against the allegations levelled against him.

The Court of Appeal has upheld a decision by the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) to sack its head of security on claims of extorting over Sh800,000 from various dealers.

In a judgment passed by a three-judge bench, the court quashed April 10, 2019 decision of the Labour Court to order for reinstatement of John Sigura to his position and payment of withheld salaries and allowances from April 2018 when he was dismissed from service.

The bench comprising of justices Daniel Musinga, Gatembu Kairu and Sankale Ole Kantai allowed an appeal lodged by the energy regulator, set aside the lower court’s judgment and substituted it with an order that Mr Sigura’s dismissal was lawful.

It found that Mr Sigura was given an opportunity to defend himself against the allegations levelled against him.

But having failed to present himself before the disciplinary team of the regulator as required, the judges said Mr Sigura cannot fault it for the decision taken.

“The respondent (Sigura) believed that since the Directorate of Criminal Investigations had written to the appellant (Energy Regulatory Commission-now Epra) stating that there was no tangible evidence to sustain the allegations that had been made against him the appellant had no basis for imposing any disciplinary action against him.

The trial court agreed with the respondent. We must, however state that disciplinary processes are not necessarily dependent on criminal processes,” ruled the judges.

Mr Sigura was in Epra employment until 2015.

He was interdicted from duty by the letter dated September 6, 2017 on account of reports received from some licensees about his conduct.

The letter stated that the complaints pointed at instances of extortion and intimidation of licensees in the course of his duties.

For instance it was alleged that in December 2016 while in Kisumu County he went to the premises of Multi Energy Limited, forcefully entered, harassed one of the directors and caused police to arrest one of the directors who was wrongfully charged in court.

Further, that through an emissary he solicited for a Sh400,000 bribe in exchange of a promise to terminate the case he had initiated against the director.

Whereas the he denied receiving the show cause letter or notice from his former employer, he testified in court that he had authority to travel to Kisumu in performance of his enforcement and compliance duties.

Once in Kisumu he said he visited the premises together with police officers and county officials and it turned out that the company operated without a valid licence issued by Epra but had a licence for its Nairobi Industrial Area business.

Accordingly criminal charges were preferred in accordance with applicable law.



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