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No tea party as police raid KTDA offices

Police officers keep vigil as DCI officers raid Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) headquarters in Nairobi. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Detectives from the DCI Serious Crimes Unit on Friday raided the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) head offices in Nairobi.

The officers took control of the seven floors that are used by the tea agency at Farmers Building on Moi Avenue.

The raid marked the start of forensic investigations into KTDA’s finances as demanded by the most radical critics of the Kenyan smallholder tea subsector model.

The raid was opposed by insiders as an attempt by the government to enter an industry it had ceded to farmers through the backdoor.

The agency said yesterday that four staff members had been held hostage at the authority’s premises after it was blockaded by the police.

Sam Nyaberi, the lawyer representing the four employees, had called for their release, and said there are court orders to that effect and they are not party to an ongoing case. “We ask for the release of our clients who have been detained since yesterday without any contact with their families, and the officers can hear none of them.

“We are yet to see them, we are yet to get to know why they are being detained yet they are not party to the constitutional petition or the application made by the Attorney General,” said Nyaberi.

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A police vehicle stands guard at the entrance of the KTDA offices. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

For the second day yesterday, the entrance of the KTDA offices was swarmed with police officers manning the area.

The investigators directed staff to move away from their computers and leave the building under the supervision of armed officers.

The raid came on the day the agency announced a Sh734 million dividend payout to farmers as profits from KTDA Holdings for the financial year ending June 30, 2020.

That was income earned from its subsidiaries.

A source at the agency told The Sunday Standard that some of the officers were stationed on the eighth floor where offices of the senior staff, including the finance director and the CEO, are.

The Sunday Standard learnt that the officers wanted to look for documents. A senior DCI officer familiar with the operation said the investigators would also take away computers for forensic analysis.

In a press statement, through Corporate Affairs Department, KTDA described the DCI raid as bordering on contempt of court.

“They have appeared with an order from a Magistrate Court notwithstanding the existence of a High Court order restraining such an action,” said the statement.

[Additional reporting by Graham Kajilwa]

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