In July 2019, Eng. Daniel Mwenda Ntoiti instituted a petition against the Institution of Engineers of Kenya (IEK) and the Engineers Board of Kenya (EBK), following the cancellation of his corporate membership certificate: M3511.
In a document published on the Kenya Law website, Eng. Ntoiti stated that IEK had served him a letter in January 2019, cancelling his certificate of membership, terming it as illegal and/or irregular. Arising out of this letter by IEK, Eng. Ntoiti subsequently got deregistered as a professional engineer by the Engineers Board of Kenya (EBK).
In the petition, Eng. Ntoiti had argued that he had met all the procedural requirements laid out by the IEK. He further explained that he was invited for a professional interview on 9th March 2018, where he was interviewed by a panel of three engineers: Eng. Samuel Charagu (who was the then substantive honorary secretary of IEK and the chairperson of the interview panel), Eng. Richard Chepkwony and Eng. Christopher Ndungu (now deceased).
After the interview, Eng. Ntoiti was issued with a corporate membership certificate, signed by Eng. Samuel Charagu (the then honorary secretary, who was among the panellist that personally interviewed him), Eng. Rosemary Kung’u (chairperson; membership committee) and Eng. Michael Okonji (the then president of IEK).
After obtaining the corporate membership certificate from IEK, he went ahead and applied for automatic registration as a professional engineer, with the Engineers Board of Kenya (EBK); which was approved in June 2018.
The interviews were carried out at the time when IEK was also preparing for election of new council members. The elections were conducted on 12th April 2018(a day before Eng. Ntoiti got his membership certificate), and the new council assumed office on 27th April 2018, with Eng. Nathaniel Matalanga being elected as the new honorary secretary of IEK.
In August 2018, Eng. Matalanga by telephone conversation and through email conversations contacted Eng. Ntoiti and asked him to return his membership certificate, claiming that his membership number: M3511 had been shared with someone else. However Eng. Ntoiti declined and requested that the alleged “error” be rectified before giving out his original certificate.
A month later, Eng. Ntoiti received a letter from IEK, asking him to return the certificate – he did not comply. IEK went ahead and cancelled his certificate, and copied a letter to the Engineers Board of Kenya, effectively prohibiting him to work as a civil engineer in Kenya.
According to averments filed in court by IEK, Eng. Ntoiti had failed the professional interview and was advised to acquire more training in the design of civil engineers works.
Further, IEK made three new allegations during the trial: that Ntoiti’s membership file had some falsified receipts of IEK’s subscription fees -; that the membership certificate also bore fake signatures and thus IEK requested him to return his certificate– it was alleged that he had obtained the certificate irregularly from the then registration officer: Mr. Christopher Ogonyo Munubi; whose services were later terminated and charged in court with forgery.
EBK argued that it deregistered Eng. Ntoiti after receiving information from IEK that the corporate membership certificate was illegally obtained.
On 1st October 2020, the judgement was delivered by the Honourable Mr. Justice James A. Makau and the court ruled in favour of Eng. Ntoiti. All allegations were discounted. The Honorable judge noted that IEK had hidden material facts by failing to disclose in their filings details of the “second person” with whom the alleged membership no. M3511 was shared.
Concerning the purportedly falsified receipts, Eng. Ntoiti filed in Court certified M-pesa statements and Banking slips proving that all monies were directly paid to IEK and not to Chris Munubi. Regarding the alleged forged signatures, Eng. Ntoiti filed a supporting affidavit from the then President, Eng. Okonji who confirmed in his affidavit that the signature on the face of Eng. Ntoiti’s Certificate was indeed genuine.
IEK was not able to adduce any evidence proving any inappropriate financial interaction between him and Christopher Munubi, which is contrary to the requirement in Law that ‘He who alleges must prove’.
The Judge also noted that IEK had engaged in perjury and had filed unsigned and undated documents in Court to support their allegations against the Petitioner. The Honourable Court, reading malice in the actions of IEK to cancel Eng. Ntoiti’s membership certificate, awarded the Petitioner General damages, exemplary damages and costs of the suit against the IEK.
IEK was however dissatisfied with the judgement and is still considering various options in consultation with the institution’s legal team. The options include but not limited to, lodging an appeal against the judgement.
On a statement made by IEK, the Institution reassured their members, partners and the general public that it will continue to discharge its mandate; by ensuring that only duly qualified people are admitted in their various membership classes of Student, Graduate, Corporate and Fellow.
IEK in the process also discovered that 26 members had irregularly acquired membership certificates; and that only 24 of the certificates were recovered. The 24 members with irregular certificates have been taken through various regularization and some have already fulfilled all the conditions and has been issued with genuine certificates.
IEK has insisted that it was acting lawfully and in the best interest of the members in the process of issuing certificate only to qualified persons.