Former Bowling Chair seeks 1.5 million from NOCK

By francis marangu
Sep 09, 2015
  • Robert Asembo delivered a ruling which cleared Wambugu's travel to Zambia for the Africa State Bowls.

Former Kenya Bowling Association (KBA) chairman Charles Wambugu Kariuki is seeking compensation amounting to $14, 400 (Ksh.1,514,939 from the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK).

It's the calculated sum of allowances he was to earn for his role at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland. Every manager was to earn $600 (Ksh.60,600) every day for the 24 days that the games run.

But, Wambugu was dismissed from the management committee one week before departure and replaced by Michael Ouma who was accredited as team member.

Wambugu is blaming NOCK for the move he says was wrong and unanticipated.

The Sports Disputes Tribunal panel of three chaired by John Ohaga presided over the hearing on Tuesday. Wambugu was cross-examined by NOCK lawyer Tengu Madara who put him to task over his interests in the case.

Wambugu said his election to represent KBA was done in accordance with the regulations of NOCK. On his dismissal, he confirmed that no official communication was given to him.

He regretted the manner in which Commonwealth Games Management Committee Executive Officer James Chacha informed him of the decision was informal.

“I was informed of my dismissal verbally and not in writing. When we were being kitted in readiness for the games, I was told that my name was missing. I was taken aback and told him it was wrong,” he said during the cross-examination and insinuated that NOCK chairman and secretary general were surprised by his removal.

“To date, I have never been given formal communication on the reasons for my dismissal. Actually, I was at the flag handover ceremony and send off party at the British High Commission as the bowls manager.”

Wambugu: Limited time to appeal

Ohaga queried him on why he accepted the verbal communication from Chacha but he said time was limited to make meaningful appeal. “It caught me by surprise since it came a week to departure. I went to the highest hierarchy of NOCK but they kept on telling me they were working on the issue yet time was running out.”

Madara sought to show that NOCK is not responsible for paying participants to the games stating that funds are given by the government. However, Wambugu cited his past experiences saying NOCK manages funds from government.

“I have attended three Commonwealth Games where we were paid by the NOCK treasurer. That has been the tradition over the years and nothing of this nature has ever happened. It is an injustice that should not be condoned.”

Wambugu told the tribunal that his expulsion from the games’ management committee has caused him a lot of trouble for the past one year. He said all the time and effort he had sacrificed to work for the country under NOCK went to waste.

“I am doing this with full knowledge that it's NOCK who injured me from January when I came on board to July when I was unceremoniously dismissed. I went through a lot of mental torture and NOCK embarrassed me because I worked for them and that is the basis of my appeal,” Wambugu added.

Madara further sought to know why Wambugu is not suing individuals who made the decision to expel him saying it's unfair to target the olympic body alone.

In response, he said his case touches on the organization since that was the body mandated with putting the management team together. “I put aside all my responsibilities including international travels just to work for NOCK. It does not matter who influenced the decision that they took because it's NOCK as an organization that I worked for and not individuals.”

It also emerged that internal wrangling within KBA played a key role in Wambugu’s predicaments. It all started on November 18, 2013 when the federation held elections to select their representative to the management committee as a manager.

Wambugu beat current KBA chairman Paul Wamae by 6 votes to 4 and their relationship took a sour turn. In their annual general meeting held in February  2014, Wamae trounced Wambugu to become the federation boss.

At one point, Wamae wrote a letter to NOCK seeking to replace Wambugu from the committee. But NOCK said it was impossible to replace him.

Harry Davies from KBA who appeared as a witness for Wambugu said it was politics at play in the whole scenario. Madara wanted to know from him why KBA did not intervene to have Wambugu reinstated.

Political machinations

He answered; “There were political machinations within bowling in early 2014. There was no way KBA would have attempted to reverse the decision made by NOCK. There were machinations by the Wamae camp to remove Wambugu,” he offered.

“From what I read, NOCK had made a decision that no manager would be removed on political grounds. However, it seems their officials succumbed to pressure.”

Davies said he was suspended from KBA alongside Wambugu and his wife Susan Wambugu after the move by NOCK and their filing of the case at the tribunal. “The distress caused by this issue is very severe. Wambugu was unfairly treated by NOCK and I decided to stand for what is right.”

Madara has 10 days to file a written submission after which Wambugu will reply in seven days. The ruling is expected in early October.

At the same time, lawyer Martin Njeru Nyaga who represented Wambugu got a reprieve after winning a case he had filed against KBA at the tribunal. He was aggrieved after being excluded from the national team to represent Kenya at the Zone VI African States Bowls Tournament slated for Lusaka, Zambia from September 11-19.

In his case, Nyaga claimed to have emerged the winner during selection playoffs held from July 10-12. He wanted the tribunal to bar KBA from forwarding the list of selected players to organizers without his name.

In a ruling delivered by Robert Asembo, the tribunal admitted the appeal saying there was no room for appeals and complaints by aggrieved parties. “We therefore order that the appellant (Nyaga) should be included in the team to ASB Zambia 2015.”