Mara Heist: University Fires Whistleblower in Citizen TV Exposé

A disciplinary meeting held by the university council on June 16, 2020 had found Sankale guilty of gross misconduct on nine charges.

Mara Heist: University Fires Whistleblower in Citizen TV Exposé

Maasai Mara University council has sacked its senior accounting officer, Spencer Sankale, who played a key role in Citizen TV's Mara Heist exposé.

According to a dismissal letter dated Thursday, June 17 seen by Viral Tea, a disciplinary meeting held by the university council on June 16, 2020 had found Sankale guilty of gross misconduct on nine charges.

The letter indicated that the senior accountant was found guilty of sustained insolence against his employer, malicious misrepresentation of his employer, libel and defamation and falsely maligning the image and reputation of the university.

Dismissal letter by the Maasai Mara university council to Sankale following the 2019 Citizen TV exposé, dubbed the Mara Heist. /FILE

He was also found guilty of sustained disregard of university standard and procedures, sustained incitement of university staff and the general public against his employer, sustained insubordination and failure to act in the best interest of the university.

“Due to the aforementioned, the Council resolved to summarily terminate your employment with the university with immediate effect, in accordance with section 44 (4)(d)(g) of the Employment Act,” read the dismissal letter by University Chairman Dr Kennedy Ole Kerei.

The university added that Sankale would be paid a one month's salary in lieu of the notice.

The exposé aired in 2019 featuring Citizen TV's Waihiga Mwaura and former colleague turned Debunk Media founder Asha Mwilu uncovered corruption on a grand scale at the university and landed Sankale in trouble. It included his personal testimony as one of the four individuals who laid bare the wanton corruption at the public university.

Spencer, who had served as the acting finance officer before his demotion in August 2017, secretly made recordings of illegal cash transactions he was allegedly instructed to make by the school's Vice-Chancellor (VC), Professor Mary Walingo.

Once Waihiga and Mwilu reached out to Professor Walingo armed with evidence of misappropriation of funds, fraud, and abuse of office, she summoned Spencer the moment she had learned of the damning allegations, going on to threaten him and assured him that she would drag him down with her once formal investigations were launched.

"You want a fight? I say bring it on. But I want to assure you that you're going nowhere. I brought you from nowhere, I was sharpening a knife that would end up stabbing me? I have decided, let's fight now. You've called them and they're coming, don't make the mistake of thinking I'm going down alone, you'll go first then I'll follow," Walingo asserted at the time, unaware that Spencer was covertly recording the entire conversation.

Spencer had furnished the investigative journalists with audio and video tapes made over a period of two years, which articulated how the entire syndicate managed to siphon over Ksh190 million from the school's accounts.

The incriminating evidence pointed at the VC, Spencers' replacement after his demotion, Anaclet Okumu, and Walingo's driver Noor Abdi, as the main culprits.

According to the former acting finance officer's statement, the three key suspects used to make regular withdrawals using shady documentation adding up to Ksh10 million in a week.

The expose, likened to Netflix's popular series Money Heist, ignited massive online uproar and a year later, backed by evidence boldly unleashed by Waihiga and Mwilu, Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji ordered the arrest and prosecution of Prof. Walingo over the loss of Ksh177 million at the Narok institution.

Citizen TV's Waihiga Mwaura and former colleague Asha Mwilu in the 2019 feature 'Mara Heist. /FILE