Maasai Mara University responds to uproar over sacking of whistleblower Spencer Sankale
Maasai Mara University Council has come out to dismiss reports suggesting that Spencer Sankale Ololchike, the Chief Finance Officer at the university, was sacked for being the whistleblower in the corruption scandal that was exposed at the institution by Citizen TV.
The council maintains that Sankale is not the only whistleblower at the university, adding that he was specifically fired “due to his unrelenting insolence, cyber bullying, libel and defamation towards his employer, among other documented cases of gross misconduct.”
A statement issued on Wednesday by the council chairman Dr. Kennedy Ole Kerei claims that Sankale allegedly abused, maligned and defamed both the Council and Management of the University.
“Contrary to media reports, Mr. Ololchike was NOT dismissed because of his whistle-blowing activities, but due to his unrelenting insolence, cyber bullying, libel and defamation towards his employer, among other documented cases of gross misconduct. Mr. Ololchike is NOT the only whistle-blower in Maasai Mara University. There are more than twenty (20) whistle-blowers and state witnesses who are working harmoniously in the institution,” reads the statement.
The Council adds that after Sankale appeared on the 2019 Citizen TV expose dubbed Mara Heist, he was summoned to appear before the council to shed more light on the said graft allegations but he allegedly failed to produce any evidence to support his claims and instead became arrogant.
“During the meeting, Mr. Ololchike declined and/or failed to provide any information on the allegations he made. He also declined and/or failed to produce any evidence of his allegations. Instead, he chose to display total disrespect, disdain, contempt, arrogance and condescension towards the Council in the ensuing interaction in the said meeting,” states the council.
“To give him the benefit of doubt, the Council further wrote to request him in a letter dated 7th September, 2020 to provide written responses to his claims, but Mr. Ololchike ignored the Council letter to him. Instead, he continued to make unverified claims of corruption. Mr. Ololchike’s actions quickly turned into incendiary incitement deliberately crafted to whip up the emotions of staff and play to the public gallery.
His concerted smear campaign gained traction because of his public image as a whistle-blower. For example, during his campaign for the seat of Secretary of Kenya University Staff Union (KUSU) – Maasai Mara University Chapter in May 2021, Mr. Ololchike incessantly abused, maligned and defamed both the Council and Management of the University.”
The University accuses Sankale of tarnishing the institution’s reputation, leading to cancellation of a number of collaborations between the varisity and various local and foreign partners.
“In total disregard of the University procedures and structures, Mr. Ololchike’s well-documented smear campaign against the immediate former Council, the current Council and the Management has cost and continues to cost the University dearly, particularly denting the image of the University with persistent lies. A number of partners, both local and foreign, have either suspended or cancelled their collaborations with the University,” reads the statement.
In the summary dismissal letter issued to Sankale, he was accused of offences including: “Sustained insolence to the employer, cyberbullying, malicious representation, libel, defamation and falsely maligning the image and reputation of the University.”
His sacking attracted reactions from various quarters with the Kenya Universities Staff Union (KUSU) demanding his reinstatement
During a press conference on Monday, the Union’s chairperson, Dr. Phillip Onyango, described his dismissal as illegal and unfair, demanding that he be reinstated and the entire University Council disbanded.
Spencer was among the university staff members who blew the whistle on alleged misappropriation of Ksh.190 million by the Vice Chancellor Prof Mary Walingo and her administration.
Walingo was eventually suspended over the matter and later charged alongside her deputies Simon Kasaine Ole Seno (Administration), John Almadi Obare (Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor, Finance), Anaclet Biket Okumu, (Finance) and her driver Noor Hassan Abdi.