Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) has gone before the High Court in Murang’a seeking to stop office of the Auditor General from auditing the firm’s account books.
KTDA on Monday opposed the move by government to have its books audited terming the petition before the high court over reduced bonus as sensitive.
Through their lawyer, Mwangi Kibicho, KTDA want the petition filed on October 7 by the county government be heard by a bench of uneven number of judges, not being less than three.
The KTDA’s counsel in the application before Justice Kanyi Kimondo requested the judges to sit on the bench to be assigned by Chief Justice.
“The petition by the County Government of Murang’a does not raise substantial questions of law in terms of article 165 (4) of the constitution and should be heard by an uneven number of judges assigned by the Chief Justice,” added Kibicho.
Agency in the affidavits stated that there was a similar petition No 18 of 2014 before the High Court in Kericho, in which Murang’a County Government was a third interested party.
In the application, dated October 11, the KTDA Finance and Strategy Director, Benson Ngari Kamau seek for the dismissal of the petition by the county government.
Kamau argued that claims by the county government that reduced bonus payment by 36 percent was a result of fraud, impropriety, unaccountable and economic exploitation of farmers.
The County Government in its application had sought investigations of KTDA accounts by the Auditor General’s office.
The County Government moved to court under certificate of urgency, on grounds that this year’s tea bonus payment announced by the agency was reduced as compared to that of last year.
The County government Chief Officer, Bernard Wanyoike in the affidavit, argued that there was a reduced annual bonus payment of Sh.8.9 billion, down from Sh.11.2 billion of last year, thus need for investigations.
Kimondo ruled that other applications by KTDA should remain pending until the prayer seeking on the matter to be relocated to CJ is heard and determined.
The Judge ruled that the application be heard by inter-parties on November 29, following consent of the advocates presenting Murang’a County Government and Mwangi Kibicho for the agency.
“Other application before the court concerning the matter will remain pending. I am also extending orders seeking for audit of the accounts of the Murang’a based tea factories until November 29,” ruled the Judge.
Speaking elsewhere, the Murang’a Governor, Mwangi wa Iria said the county government is committed to ensure farmers get justice over their produce.
He said the prayer by KTDA to transfer the case from Murang’a to Nairobi, if granted will deny farmers from participating in the hearings.
Wa Iria said they will seek to enjoin the County Assembly and tea farmers in the suit.
By Bernard Munyao