RELEASED BECAUSE HE IS UNWELL

Kibos firm petitioner arrested, accused of forging signatures

But Atiang' claims he is being targeted by the police because of the petition against the company

In Summary

• Farmers allegedly disowned the petition.

• Atiang' has another petition pending before the National Assembly's health committee.

Health committee chairman Sabina Chege at Kibos Sugar and Allied Industries during a fact-finding mission on October 28
Health committee chairman Sabina Chege at Kibos Sugar and Allied Industries during a fact-finding mission on October 28
Image: DICKENS WASONGA

The controversy between Kibos companies and Miwani petitioners took a new twist on Wednesday after DCI detectives from Kisumu arrested the lead petitioner.

Charles Atiang' was picked up by detectives at 5pm on Wednesday from his Gatundu village home in Muhoroni and taken to Kisumu Central police station for interrogation.

Atiang' told the Star that he was arrested over a petition against Kibos, which is before the Senate Committee on Health.  

Kisumu county criminal investigations officer Francis Wanjau told journalists that Kibos sugar reported that the lead petitioner allegedly forged farmers' signatures, which he used to lodge a complaint in the Senate.

Farmers allegedly disowned the petition."We have released him on free bond because he is unwell. It is an inquiry. We wanted his statement and  investigations will commence once he is better," Wanjau aid.

But Atiang' claimed he was being targeted by the police because of the petition against the company. 

"It's on the order paper with the Senate for hearing next week," he told the Star on Wednesday.

"I was to appear before them on Wednesday last week  in Miwani. I waited but they failed to appear. They were in Homa Bay county," he said.

Atiang' has another petition pending before the National Assembly's health committee.

He led 91 people to petition Parliament against the same company.

On October 28, the Sabina Chege committee visited Kisumu to meet the petitioners at Ciala resort.

The inquiry on the petition by the departmental committee was in regards to the alleged negligence by the Department of Immigration and health to enforce Covid-19 protocols on workers of Kibos Sugar factory.

The committee started their inquiry by meeting the lead petitioner, officials from the Department of Immigration, Ministry of Health officials, Kisumu county government officials, Members of Kisumu county assembly and Kibos Sugar factory management.

In the petition signed by 91 petitioners the allegation was that in May 2021, the Ministry of Health reported the first five cases of the Indian Covid-19 variant in the country.

The five were employees of Kibos Sugar factory returning from India and who continued to work at the factory despite the risk they were putting their colleagues in, and the community at large.

The petitioners are of the view that the laxity to enforce Covid-19 protocols contributed to the exponential rise in infections within counties in the Lake region.

The committee asked the lead petitioner to produce at least five petitioners to ascertain their identification numbers and signatures.

The committee waited for the petitioners for hours, but this did not happen since the lead petitioner's phone went unanswered.

He later wrote to the committee's clerk claiming he had lost his phone and asked that the MPs reschedule the meeting with petitioners.

During a meeting at Kibos Sugar factory on October 28, the committee was informed by a section of MCAs that the petition was in bad faith and that it was as a result of business rivalry.

The team was told that Kibos Sugar has given employment to a number of residents.

They were keen to note that the factory had positively affected many lives, not just in Kisumu but also across Kenya.

The committee heard that the factory had been at the forefront in averting the spread of Covid-19 by distributing sanitisers in the lake region.

The committee put to task Kibos Sugar factory management to explain why they had given jobs that can be handled by Kenyans to immigrants.  

In their response, the factory management said investors were comfortable working with immigrants whom they trusted to undertake critical assignments.

"We have government institutions at our disposal. We will do our own investigations to establish the truth and authenticity of these signatures. If we find out we have been duped, then someone will bear the consequences," Sabina said.