Cord leader Raila Odinga is demanding compensation from National Assembly Leader of Majority Aden Duale for damages arising from allegations that the opposition leader owed Mumias Sugar and western Kenya sugarcane farmers millions of shillings.
Through his legal advisor, Mr Paul Mwangi, the former prime minister says Mr Duale has to offer settlement for his remarks which he described as malicious and defamatory.
“Our instructions are to notify you that we shall file legal proceedings against you for damages for injury caused to our client after seven days from the date of this letter unless you have submitted to us within that time an offer for settlement,” reads the demand letter.
The letter makes no mention of the Cord leader’s threat on Sunday that he would take Deputy President William Ruto to court over similar remarks.
Mr Mwangi was referring to an August 15 function held at Burborwet Secondary School in Belgut Constituency in Kericho County at which Mr Duale allegedly blamed Mr Odinga for the sugarcane farmers’ woes, claiming that he owes Mumias Sh40 million.
While defending President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government, Mr Duale allegedly said that the sugar firm’s woes started during the coalition government in which Mr Odinga was prime minister.
The letter also referred to Mr Duale’s remarks on August 18 in which the Leader of Majority allegedly referred to the former PM as the “Lord of Poverty” who should now offer cheques to sugarcane farmers so that they could take their children to school.
According to Mr Mwangi, the remarks were meant to tarnish Mr Odinga’s reputation as a businessman, politician and leader.
“Your words were uttered with malice, using insulting and belittling language meant to accentuate the harm and injury inflicted on our client,” Mr Mwangi said.
He claims that Mr Duale’s remarks portrayed the former PM as a debt defaulter who unlawfully refuses to settle his commercial debts and therefore bears responsibility for the financial woes of the sugar miller.
The remarks also created the impression that Mr Odinga has withheld from the people of western Kenya and the sugarcane farmers’ money which is rightfully due to them, thereby pursuing a political strategy of impoverishing Kenyans, the demand letter states.
“Those words meant and were indeed understood to mean Mr Odinga owes Mumias, has unlawfully refused to settle the said debt, owes money to the people of Western Kenya and sugarcane farmers who have since been unable to take their children to school,” Mr Mwangi said.
The demand letter comes barely a day after the opposition leader threatened Deputy President Ruto with a lawsuit for allegedly linking him to Mumias’s financial woes and claims that a firm linked to the Odinga family — Spectre International — was among 13 companies from which the miller has instructed its lawyer to recover millions of shillings.
However, nominated MP Oburu Oginga denied the claims touching on Spectre, saying that its management reached a decision that their business with Mumias should be strictly on a cash basis or bank-guaranteed payment and that if there was any existing debts, managers of both companies could settle it at the board level.