By: ABIUD OCHIENG
The controversy surrounding a defamation case pitting Nairobi Governor Evans Kidero against Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale deepened on Friday, with the senator asking a judge to stop handling the matter.
Dr Khalwale, through lawyer Ahmednasir Abdullahi, wants Justice Joseph Sergon to bow out of the matter, accusing him of being subjective.
“Why is it that this court is not recording our submissions? It is like our arguments are not valued by this court? We want this matter to be taken to another judge,” said Mr Abdullahi.
But Dr Kidero, through lawyer Tom Ojienda, also wants Mr Abdullahi out, saying he is likely to be a witness because he is currently acting as an arbitrator in a dispute between the Mumias Sugar Company and the Mumias Outgrowers Company Ltd.
Mr Justice Sergon said he would determine the matter once the lawyers file their papers detailing their reasons.
Dr Kidero has sued Dr Khalwale for linking him to the mismanagement of Mumias at a public rally attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The senator has, however, denied the charges, saying he had established that there was financial misappropriation, cane poaching and fraudulent disposal of property at the firm during Dr Kidero’s tenure.
There is evidence, he said, to demonstrate that the firm had in 2012 received Sh650 million in cash from a wholesaler for the sale of 13,450 metric tons of sugar but the money was never deposited in Mumias bank accounts.
In addition, payments amounting to Sh900,000 were issued for security services that were never rendered, he claimed.
“There was the issue of the unfortunate closure of Mumias and whether due process was adhered to hence my remarks, given this is a public interest matter,” explained Dr Khalwale, who is also the chairman of the Public Accounts and Investment Committee in the Senate.
Dr Kidero has, in his court papers, said Dr Khalwale never sought his opinion before making the remarks.
All payments to the company, he says, were being made to Mumias accounts under the supervision of the finance director, and that the firm has never accused him of financial misappropriation.
“Mumias Sugar has always had structures including a financial director accountable for proceeds of sale of the company products,” said Dr Kidero.
The case will be heard on September 3.