Going by the present happenings in Vihiga county, it can be said to be a classic case of the shoe being on the other foot, as far as Joseph Simekha and Vihiga county governor Wilbur Otichillo are concerned.
Just last year, Joseph Simekha’s sad story was the talk of the town, with almost everyone feeling sorry for him and taking pity on his heartbreaking predicament following reports of the mistreatment that had just been allegedly meted out to him.
It was reported that Maina Kiai and Lucy Hannan forced Simekha off the helm of Informaction, a non-governmental body which Kiai founded, and which uses film to help citizens speak out on the problems afflicting them.
Reportedly, in an affidavit accompanying a complaint filed in the Employment and Labour Relations Court, Simekha alleges that Kiai, a former chairman of the Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KNCHR), Hannan and other board members of Informaction violated his rights by sending him on forced leave for no apparent reason, instigating locking him out of the organisation’s email system and WhatsApp groups and menacingly throwing him out office.
He lists a litany of under-table moves initiated and implemented by the two in cahoots with a section of staff at Informaction. He accuses them of precipitating staff to revolt against him and interfering with his work as the executive director, including refusing to allow him to be a signatory to Informaction’s bank accounts and spending the organisation’s funds to pay Hannan for editorial services and Kiai’s security, phone and data bills behind his back.
Moreover, as the outgoing executive director, Kiai reportedly refused to relinquish the office of the executive director and Simekha alleges that he was forced to operate from a different office. On the other hand, he claims to have found a culture in which relatives of board members were on the payroll despite some of them not living in Kenya.
Now, barely a year later, Joseph Simekha and former Vihiga county secretary Francis Ominde are behind a push to force Governor Wilbur Otichillo out of office. The drive the two are spearheading seeks to collect signatures and have Uhuru dissolve the Vihiga County Government.