Ponangipalli Ramana Rao, the former administrator of Mumias Sugar Company, on Friday got a major setback after High Court judge, Justice Donna Chepkwony, declined to hear an application seeking to reverse an order that stopped Ramana Rao from managing the sugar miller.
Justice Chepkwony said his court had no jurisdiction to hear the application and instead directed Rao’s lawyers to move to the Coúrt of Appeal to challenge the order issued by High Court judge Justice Alfred Mabeya on April 14, 2022.
In the April ruling, Justice Mabeya revoked the appointment of Ramana Rao as the administrator and receiver manager of the sugar miller over non-compliance with terms of the job. The judge appointed Kereto Marima as new administrator of the company and directed Rao to hand over operations within seven days.
“Mr Ponangipalli Venkata Ramana Rao to formerly and in an orderly manner hand over to Kereto Marima the full and unhindered control and administration of Mumias within 7 days of the date hereof.
It ordered Mr. Panangipalli Venkata Remana Rao, “as receiver manager appointed by KCB to cooperate with Kereto Marima and ensure the smooth administration of Mumias. In default, Justice Mabeya said, the receivership shall stand suspended during the duration of the administration.”
Justice Chepkwony, however, agreed to give priority a petition seeking to have more than one judge to hear the Mumias Sugar issue. In the case, creditor Jackline Kimeto is accusing Sarrai Group of running Mumias Sugar despite court orders issued by Justice Mabeya canceling the 20-year lease granted to it by KCB Bank receiver manager Ramana Rao.
The petition will be mentioned on 2nd February, 2023, to confirm compliance and highlight submissions. Sarrai Group is accused of carrying out operations at the Mumias Sugar company despite the exístence of a court ordèr, directing the company managers and its staff to cease operations.
The petitioner is accusing Sarrai Group of operating in Mumias under the protection of local politicians. “I am aware that the contemnors have opted to hide behind inflammatory pronouncements of politicians in the hope that they will protect them,” the advocate said in the court document.
Justice Wilfrida Okwany had also on 28th July directed the personnel of Rai Cement, an affiliate of the Sarrai Group, to keep off Mumias Sugar premises until the case filed is heard and determined.
“Pending the hearing and determination of this application, Sarrai Group Limited, its directors, agents, employees, servants, subsidiaries and other affiliates including Mumias Sugar (2021) Limited, Rai Cement Limited be ordered to cease and desist any activity and all activities including the operation of machinery, dismantling, vandálism of machinery, removal of assets, or any other activity of whatever nature stored and situated within the premises of Mumias Sugar Limited,” Justice Okwany ruled.
It is during the same period that the court nullified the lease awarded to the Sarrai group in December. The court also ordered the company to return all the assets belonging to Mumias Sugar Company and directed police in Mumias to facilitate it.