Rebel Farmers Overthrows Entire Board In A 'Bloodless Coup'.



Members of the newly elected Board posing for a group photo
Mugumo-ini Farmers Company Limited yesterday overthrew what they referred to as an autocratic board of directors, prompting celebrations from a big section of the shareholders/beneficiaries amid alleged threats from a court order barring them from holding any meeting pending an inter-parties hearing on the 21st April 2016.

It all started at Mugumo-ini (Gatunyu) in Gatanga Sub-County, Murang’a when more than 50 shareholders were restrained by the police from discussing any issue regarding the said company or holding any elections to replace the sitting board of directors. As a result, they rushed to Milimani Commercial Court and obtained a counter order to allow them proceed with the business of the day at their disputed 1,342 Acres of land in Kirimiri, Makuyu Sub-County.


At around 2:30pm, the member convened at the grounds and held what they referred to as a Special General Meeting. In the meeting, each of the original 44 shareholders’ families was represented by one member who resolved to elect new office bearers to take over from the previous one, who they claim were in office since 2003, against the wishes of the members.


Joseph Kamande Ngone was elected Chairman unopposed, with James Ng’ang’a Githae assuming the secretary’s post.


Other committee members voted in included Wallace Muturi (Treasurer), Esther Muringi Murigi (Vice-Chair), Kamau Gitau (Vice-Secretary), Ann Wambui Muthee (Board Member) and Teresiah Nyambura Kairu (Board Member).


Mr. Reuben Mwaura acted as the interim Presiding officer.


According to Beth Wambui Mwaniki, one of the three only surviving original owners of the company, they bought this land in 1964. They had resolved to overhaul the entire leadership of the board of directors since according to her, they had failed to execute their duties in the interest of the surviving shareholders and their beneficiaries.

  
She alleged that the chairman had been selling sections of the land behind their back and pocketing the money.


“For the last 10 years, we have never had any general meeting or updates on the progress of our land. We don’t know how much of our land is remaining but we suspect they have sold almost the entire land,” she said.


Joseph Kamau Gitau, one of the offspring of the original shareholders, alleged that some of the land had been fraudulently sold after some of the signatories’ signatures were forged. He said that their efforts to have general meetings to square things out have always been frustrated through endless court orders to stop the scheduled meetings and elections.


The newly elected chairman vowed to have a complete audit of the company’s assets since 2003 to ascertain the true picture of the state of the company.

He promised then to call a general meeting so that members could map up the way forward for the company. He pledged to have all lost property recovered and reverted back to the company.


When contacted, ousted Chairman Mr. Francis Ngone Gathiga refuted all allegations of any fraud in the company’s activities during his 13 years in office. He said that he was actually the one who saved the company from being auctioned by their former management agency the Standard Chartered Estate Management Ltd (SCEM) who were demanding Sh.150 million worth of unpaid service dues.


“I personally talked to the manager of SCEM who accepted to scale down what we owe them to the original 10 million. Since the shareholders had no money to pay them, they (shareholders) authorised my board to sell 250 Acres of their coffee estate in order to recover this money,” said Francis.


He added that after a little while, his board had managed to revive the company’s operations to a point where they were able to earn some dividends for the first time in their history.


He added that in 2006, they did an audit of the company’s assets and found out as follows;- Out of the original 1,342 Acres, 600 Acres had been allocated to the members, 100 Acres was covered by roads, 2.5 Acres assigned for public utilities, 250 Acres had been sold to recover the SCEM’s debt, while another 110 Acres were sold on members request.


“The only disagreement here is merely 30 Acres of land. About 20 of these people have already sold their plots. I have personally not sold any piece of this land against their will,” he added.


Otherwise, the former chairman said that he was not going to contest their decision to oust them adding that he would seek some arbitration with the rival group.


“It pains me so much that it has come to this. I am ready to sit down with the new team so we can iron out our issues before we handover the office,” he concluded.
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