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Kidero dragged into sugar firms’ dispute

Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero could be dragged into a dispute between Mumias Sugar Company and Kenya Sugar Board (KSB).

This is after the court allowed Nairobi civil society activist Okiya Omtatah to be enjoined in a case where Mumias Sugar has sued KSB accusing it of registering three new firms in Busia County namely Africa Polysack Limited, Busia Industries Limited and West Kenya Sugar Company.

Mr Omtatah, who had earlier filed a related case at the High Court in Bungoma, intends to raise integrity issues touching on Dr Kidero when he was the Managing Director of the sugar firm.

Mumias Sugar, through their lawyer, told High Court Judge Isaac Lenaola that since the three did not have their own cane farms or contracted farmers in the Busia Sugar Zone, their presence would encourage cane poaching to the detriment of Mumias.

A deal reached in 2006 between Mumias and Busia Sugar Company allowed the later which did not have a factory,  to collect cane for onward delivery to Mumias for processing and they were paid by the firm.

However, when Busia Sugar was unable to pay its farmers’ dues, it allowed Mumias to access its growers directly and settle the arrears in exchange for land.

Mr Omtatah, in his case had, however, said that in 2009, the government had authorised KSB to audit and ascertain Mumias’ claim against Busia Sugar Company, and pay the actual outstanding debt.

The subsequent audit report established that only Sh20milion was owed by Busia Sugar to Mumias Sugar. Mr Omtatah alleged that the purported extra debt of over Sh100million is a result of a ghost transaction for which no value was received.

“Despite the audited financial statements of Mumias Company disclosing nil balance on the alleged debt, Dr Kidero swore an affidavit claiming that Busia Sugar is indebted to Mumias Sugar in the sum of Sh119, 608, 839,” said Mr Omtatah.