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Agriculture CS Willy Bett in trouble over contempt

By Fred Makana | April 6th 2016

Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett has been summoned by a Nairobi court for disobeying court orders.

The CS is required to show cause why he should not be arrested and sent to civil jail for contempt.

Mr Bett is required to appear in person at the High Court’s Judicial Review division today.

Justice George Odunga wants the CS to shed light on circumstances under which assets and vehicles belonging to Agricultural Sectoral Coordination Unit (ASCU), which is under the Agriculture ministry have been seized despite a court order prohibiting the same.

An order of prohibition issued by the court had stopped Bett from interfering with the work and operations of ASCU.

But a letter from Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe to ASCU sought to seize all the unit’s assets and vehicles after the order was issued.

Mr Lesiyampe, in the letter dated March 17, ordered ASCU “to return and officially hand over all vehicles which were formerly under the unit with immediate effect”.

Disciplinary action

According to court papers, the letter also stated the ministry held ASCU cordinator Mussolini Kithome accountable and solely responsible for the vehicles in question in the event of loss or misuse by “unauthorised persons”.

The case was filed by Kithome, who is also fighting impending disciplinary action by the ministry over failure to hand over ASCU property as directed by the ministry.

Lawyer Joyner Okonjo told the court that Bett had knowledge of the court orders issued as well as the PS, who was the author of the letter directing ASCU staff to hand over the assets. Justice Odunga had prohibited the ministry from interfering with the work and operations of the unit or taking any disciplinary action against Kithome and any of the officers of the unit.

The order also required that the CS “open and allow the unit staff to access their offices” situated at Kilimo House building, Nairobi.

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