NAIROBI, Kenya, April 13 — Prof Patricia Mbote, a legal scholar and law lecturer, was Tuesday taken to task for taking ownership of a concept paper developed by her fellow academic Prof Migai Akech to secure funding from FORD foundation without acknowledging him.
Prof Mbote who is among ten candidates seeking to be the country’s Chief Justice was appearing before a 9-memberJudicial Service Commission (JSC) panel led by Professor Olive Mgenda.
While interviewing Mbote, the panel raised concern on the infringement of intellectual property rights noting it contradicts her philosophy of working in a team and her integrity.
“The information we have received touch on your qualities on being a team leader. Prof Migai developed a concept note on ‘searching for balance, reflections on the presidential election in 2013.’ You used this note but you did not acknowledge his contribution yet made yourself the leader of the project,” a panelist posed.
She however explained that the paper was submitted on behalf of the University of Nairobi Law School and that the money was eventually returned when Migai objected to participating in the development of the paper.
“Prof Migai put together the concept, it was submitted to FORD Foundation as a concept of the School of Law. I was noted as the person responsible for the activities because if it did not happen, whom would they go to?” the CJ candidate defended herself.
“I did involve Migai and there was going to be output to that work which was supposed to be co-edited by myself and him, but because he didn’t want to work on it, we gave the money back for the book, ” she added.
Acting Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu also asked her to explain an issue touching on intellectual property which arose when her students at Strathmore University took her course work material and used it to develop a book.
“I had a group which comprised my students from the second year and when I was teaching property course, they were under me, being my research assistants, they had access to my materials and they took some of my course materials and converted them into a book,” Mbote said.
She said she gave up on the book when she reported the alleged copyright infringement to Strathmore Law School which determined the case in favor of the students.
The CJ candidate said she opted not to report the case to court saying: “There is no way I could sue my students. When you teach people and they behave badly, you have to be magnanimous, the world will teach them. I have forgiven them, I have written many books and I will write many more.”