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Lobby groups demand apology from Ruto over remarks on Mumias Sugar cartels

Several lobby groups are demanding that President William Ruto apologises for the remarks he made on Monday regarding his plans to deal with individuals who have filed cases in court over the ownership and control of Mumias Sugar Company.

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK), Amnesty International Kenya, Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) and Haki Africa have faulted the president for making remarks which they said are more of threats and very unfortunate.

“The words taken in their literal sense constitute a threat to persons who are currently involved in court cases over the ownership and control of Mumias Sugar Company,” the lobby groups said in a joint statement.

President Ruto on Monday said that if those who had filed cases on matters of ownership of the sugar manufacturing company don’t vacate and withdraw the cases then his government would deal with them.

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“We are ordering all to vacate the premises, that company belongs to the people. We shall make new plans for it and not entertain any court cases, they must withdraw them all,” President Ruto said.

“I have told them that the issues are three: if they attempt to bring problems they shall have to leave the country, get into prison or travel to heaven,” the Head of State added.

Members of lobby groups address the media at the Law Society of Kenya secretariat along Gitanga Road in Nairobi on August 29, 2023. PHOTO | NYABOGA KIAGE

However, the lobby groups said the presidents “threats” came at a time when businessman, Mr Jaswant Singh Rai, who holds a major stake in the sugar manufacturing was mysteriously abducted by unknown people in Nairobi last week and later released.

“While the circumstances of his public abduction remain unknown, such statements lend credence to report that his abduction must be related to issues surrounding Mumias Sugar Company,” the lobby groups said in the joint statement.

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The human rights bodies termed the president’s remark as unconstitutional and that they are consistent with the growing culture of impunity, as demonstrated by the increased misuse of police powers during the recent anti-government protests, as well as cases of police being used to aid and abet land grabbing.

The lobby groups also addressed the disappearance of Indian nationals Zulfiqar Khan, Zaid Kidwai and Kenya driver Nicodemus Mwania, whose whereabouts remains unknown following their abduction in Nairobi by unknown persons.

They also said that they are also disturbed by the fact that an Ethiopian Businessman identified as Samson Tecklemichael, who lived in Kenya, was in November 2021, abducted in broad daylight and has never been seen to date.

The lobby groups has further challenged the Head of State to retrace his steps and uphold the rule of law and the constitution.

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