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Officials claim county fuels rebellion in coffee Saccos

CENTRAL
By By NDERITU GICHURE | February 26th 2014

By NDERITU GICHURE

Nyeri, Kenya: A lawyer representing 13 coffee co-operative societies has accused Nyeri County government of instigating coups to force compliance with its proposal to pool market produce.

Lawyer Muthui Kimani told the High Court the county government blatantly abused temporary orders given in the case and continued to lobby for change of leadership in the societies.

Kimani said the county government used the Department of Co-operatives to instigate numerous and simultaneous “coups” to overthrow the management committees who had filed the suit.

The co-operative societies had gone to court to challenge a circular by the county government requiring them to mill and market their coffee through Sagana Coffee Mills.

Causing chaos in meetings

Yesterday, Kimani told Justice James Wakiaga that most of the management officials of the societies who filed the original suit have since been replaced or ceased to hold office.

This, Muthui said, was after the officials refused to comply with a circular dated October 13, 2013, issued by the county government directing all the societies in the county to have their coffee milled through Kenya Planters Co-operative Union Sagana mills. “The management of societies who filed the suit have either been removed or replaced as the county government started intimidating them immediately it became aware of the suit,” Kimani said.

He also said the government initially used schools buses to transport hooligans to coffee meetings with the sole purpose of intimidating and coercing them to comply with the order or be forcibly replaced or removed.

“They also started convening special meetings in those societies, which were deemed to be against the circular. Most of them were kicked out,” said the lawyer.

However, in a heated argument, Wahome Gikonyo for the county government termed the accusations mere rumours which cannot be substantiated. Wahome defended the removal of some of the society officials, saying they were removed after failiure to advance the interest of the coffee farmers.

When the matter came up for hearing, Kimani informed the court that he wished to withdraw two suits saying they were no longer tenable and sustainable as a result of the coups instigated by the two.

Justice Wakiaga gave the two parties seven days to decide whether to proceed with the matter or not.

However, a separate but related case of 2014, in which Mutheka Co-operative Society has sued the county government for issuing the circular, will continue.

The applicant is also seeking to block the county government from calling an Annual General Meeting at the society.

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