The High Court has cleared senior counsel Ahmednasir Abdullahi to determine a nine-year dispute between Kenya Pipeline Company and KenolKobil over a Ksh4.6 billion award to the oil marketer.
Justice Francis Gikonyo yesterday dismissed KPC’s application seeking to disqualify Mr Abdullahi as an arbiter in the dispute. KPC had argued that Mr Abdullahi’s interview during a live newscast at a local TV station in June last year revealed that he is not capable of conducting the proceedings impartially.
But Mr Justice Gikonyo held that the comments did not prove that the lawyer is biased against KPC. “Looking at the words uttered and the entire context of the interview, any reasonable person who listened to the interview would not make the same inferences and conclusions which KPC has made. KPC has not shown how the remarks by Mr Abdullahi will bear on his conduct and impartiality,” the judge ruled.
KPC asked Mr Abdullahi to disqualify himself shortly after the interview but the lawyer declined, prompting the suit. During the interview, Mr Abdullahi faulted the State corporation for awarding Lebanese firm Zakhem, a Ksh43 billion tender to construct the new Mombasa-Nairobi large-capacity pipeline. KPC said the utterances proved that Mr Abdullahi believes KPC is run by corrupt officials.
KenolKobil sued KPC in 2006 claiming the State firm had breached a storage agreement the two had signed by allocating space to other oil marketers, including Triton Oil Company which became the centre of a Ksh7.6 billion oil theft scandal only three years later.
The Nairobi Securities Exchange-listed firm also accused KPC of failing to facilitate the berthing of various ships carrying its oil products worth Ksh9 billion occasioned by the failure to allocate it storage space.