Judges find 6 KTDA directors in contempt of court
Six directors of the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) have been found guilty of contempt of court after proceeding with an election which had been stopped.
The Court of Appeal found Stephen Githiga, Eston Gakunju, Dr John Kennedy Omanga and Lorioka Tiampati, among others, guilty of contempt for interfering with the leadership and management of the 8,000-member Kiru Tea Factory in Murang’a County.
Justice William Ouko, Fatuma Sichale and Otieno-Odek, however, absolved eight other directors saying they found nothing to suggest that they violated a court order issued on December 6, 2017.
The court had ordered the wrangling members of Kiru Tea Factory and KTDA to maintain status quo, pending the determination of a case filed by a faction of the leadership.
In the AGM, the members approved the changes at tea processor’s board although Mr Githiga and his group maintained that no elections were held to replace the aggrieved directors.
The group led by Mr Githiga has insisted on being the legitimate directors in control of the factory’s affairs.
Dr Omanga was accused of convening an illegal AGM, yet he had ceased being a company secretary. But said he was still the company secretary and was empowered to convene the AGM.
In the case, a group led by Mr Chege Kirundi and vice-chairman John Ngari Kariri and auditor Christopher Mwangi accused their rivals of trying to paralyse the operations of the firm at the behest of powerful individuals who are seeking to control the tea industry in the region.
They accused KTDA directors of orchestrating the removal of Mr Kirundi and company secretary Bernard Kiragu on November 27, 2017, against express court orders.
The Court of Appeal had observed that KTDA-HC and KTDA-MS appeared intent on the nomination of Dr Omanga to replace Mr Kimani and the rivalry between the warring parties was likely to cause considerable harm to the farming community. Dr Omanga was reportedly removed on September 11, 2017 and replaced by Mr Kiragu.
The directors will face contempt proceedings for allegedly proceedings with the AGM, which led to the removal of Mr Kirundi.
Mr Kirundi and his allies had obtained an injunction blocking the Kenya Tea Development Agency Holdings Ltd (KTDA-HL) and Kenya Tea Development Agency Management Services Ltd (KTDA-MS) from interfering with the leadership of the factory.
“In relation to the convening of the AGM held on December 14, 2017, we find that Dr John F. Kennedy Omanga, Mr Stephen Maina Githiga and mr Eston Gukungu had personal knowledge of the status quo orders and actively participated in convening and attending the prohibited AGM,” the court said.