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Prof. Nick Wanjohi Involved In Gun Drama

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Tension is high at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) following an altercation between a former aide to late President Mwai Kibaki and a senior lecturer.

Prof Nick Wanjohi, a former Vice-Chancellor at the university, who also served in President Kibaki’s administration as Comptroller of State House and later as his Private Secretary, is said to have joined his bodyguards who drew their pistols to confront, Dr Sylvester Kiptoo, following differences over allocation of a lecture room.

The bodyguards are said to have forced the lecturer from the lecture room in contention brandishing pistols after roughing him up.

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The last Thursday afternoon incident has prompted lecturers at JKUAT to threaten to down tools with the Universities Academic Staff Union (UASU) calling for calm as the management handles the matter.

It has also raised questions over the behaviour of armed bodyguards assigned to some senior lecturers, particularly those who return to universities after serving in influential positions in government.

It has also not been established under what circumstances Wanjohi has remained with his armed bodyguards, more than ten years since he left his assignments in government.

Grievous action

The university’s UASU chapter secretary general Dr Shadrak Muya said they were handling the matter as a misunderstanding between two colleagues.
“It is advisable for you to get official communication from the Vice Chancellor’s office as the matter involves staff members,” Dr Muya told the media.

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The UASU university chapter chairman Dr Muiga Rugara wants the institution to urgently address the conduct of some bodyguards assigned to some lecturers. “UASU will take up the matter and make sure the good professor will be informed on how grievous his action were in terms of the security of his colleague and the examination process. The university management will also be required to address the matter of dons’ security amidst armed guards and the shortage of lecture halls,” Dr Rugara told lecturers in an internal memo.

Reached for comment, Prof Wanjohi
referred questions to the Vice Chancellor, though he appeared to blame the in- cident on the management for allocating two events to take place in one room at the same time.

“The management should explain to you why they decided to allocate one room, two events at the same time. Though they are handling the matter, they are to blame for the confusion,” the one time JKUAT Vice Chancellor said on phone.

Prof Wanjohi declined to comment on the matter that he described as “minor,” insisting that the university management was already handling it.

Special exams

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Drama is said to have begun on Thursday morning when Prof Wanjohi and his bodyguards arrived at one of the lecture halls where he had been scheduled to conduct some lessons only to find Dr Kiptoo supervising students re-siting supplemen- tary examinations.

The former VC is then said to have ordered his junior colleague to halt the examinations, relocate to another lecture room and leave the one in contention for him.

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But Dr Kiptoo, who says in his statement to the university management that he had not recognised Prof Wanjohi, insisted on continuing with the exercise, infuriating the former VC.

“Maybe Prof Wanjohi did not communicate about the ongoing special supplementary exams and may have been thinking I knew him and his VIP,” Dr Kiptoo observesinhisstatementtotheuniversity management.

Kiptoo goes on to state: “He did not speak to me nor my chairman of department (CoD) whom I had contacted on phone. I asked them whether we could handle the situation differently since I was
halfway through the process but he didn’t answer me. I tried to take a snapshot of the incident just that I can address it later but the next thing I saw was my phone flying and a person who I later learnt is his security was pulling me out of the room.”

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Yesterday, Dr Kiptoo declined to comment on the matter which he described as “sensitive and was being handled by the university management.

“This is a very sensitive matter that I am not in a position to handle, but you can get everything from either the VC’s office or UASU JKUAT chapter,” Dr Kiptoo said.

Lecturers say that JKUAT is experiencing a shortage of lecture halls, a situation that has occasionally led to clashes between lecturers.

Due to the shortage, the university usually reserves some special rooms for students sitting examinations, be they supplementary or special ones.

By the time of going to press, JKUAT VC Prof Victoria Wambui Ngumi was yet to respond to our e-mail sent to his office, inquiring about the official position.

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