Major investors in Kenya’s budding oil industry have fallen out acrimoniously, airing their dirty linen in papers filed in court.
The companies have been contracted by the prospector — Tullow Oil.
Their dispute is likely to affect the industry, which was recently hit by revenue demands of Turkana residents that led to the temporary suspension of oil trucking to the coast.
Former National Oil Chief Executive Mwenda Nyaga has opened a no-holds barred court battle with British businessmen Philip Moore and Craig Bridgman over dealings with East African Oilfield Services (EAOS), a firm registered in the Seychelles.
Through his Oilfield Movers, Mayphil Investment and C & G Ventures, Mr Nyaga has taken on EAOS and its sister company Kenya Energy Services.
Oilfield Movers is one of the firms Tullow contracted to transport oil to Mombasa by road in the early export pilot scheme.
Mr Nyaga wants EAOS compelled to pay him $300,000 (Sh30 million) as a refund for his shares as he seeks to exit the deal with the British businessmen.
Both sides claim that their counterparts are playing dirty, and the mudslinging has landed in court filings. Court documents seen by Nation indicate that each side may have thrown a punch below their opponent’s belt.
EAOS’ two accounts at NIC Bank were frozen in January after Mr Bridgman and Mr Moore made withdrawals to the chagrin of their local business partners-turned foes.
Mr Moore and Mr Bridgman have counter-sued, and they want Mr Nyaga and Mr James Mbote compelled to pay EAOS $2.51 million (Sh251 million). In their affidavits, the Britons accuse their local counterparts of sabotaging EAOS by stealing light towers that are usually hired out for revenue.
The lights are hired out to clients such as event organiser Mosound, Tullow Oil, China Road and Bridge Corporation and Baker Hughes.
Mr Nyaga and Mr Mbote have also been accused of influencing key EAOS employees — Mr Nathan Tarus, head of operations and Mr Thuku wa Thuku, head of sales, to resign. “On February 18, 2018, I was informed by Nathan Tarus that the warehouse was empty and the light towers were no longer there. Mr Tarus also informed me that the towers were taken on the authority of the purported Kenyan directors James Mbote Gikebe and Jamleck Mwenda Nyaga,” Mr Moore adds.
But Mr Nyaga says after being accused of the theft, he and Mr Mbote followed up with TradeWinds Aviation, which owns the warehouse. TradeWinds told them that the light towers were in the warehouse on February 26, which they confirmed through a visit to the airport storage facility.
Mr Nyaga now says that EAOS is a shell company, and that its local operations are done through a subsidiary — Kenya Energy Services Limited. In May 2014, the two Britons after registering EAOS decided to expand its operations to Kenya, where they would need a point man to run the show.
Mr Moore offered Mr Nyaga a position in the firm as CEO of its Kenya operations, which he agreed on condition that he and his friends were allowed to buy into EAOS. After negotiations that lasted nearly six months, Mr Nyaga through his Oilfield Movers struck a deal to buy 150,000 shares at $1 (Sh100) each.
At the time, Mr Nyaga’s Oilfield Movers was supplying light towers to Tullow in Turkana. He transferred 10 light towers valued at $150,000 (Sh15 million) to EAOS in exchange for the shares.
“The plaintiffs were at all times aware that there were 1.4 million shares outstanding. Further, they were aware that there were 850,000 shares issued for $850,000 (Sh85 million) and an additional 150,000 shares issued in exchange for Oilfield Movers transferring 10 light towers to EAOS,” Mr Moore and Mr Bridgman say in court filings.
Some months later, Mr Nyaga through another firm he owns — Oil and Energy Services — became a consultant for EAOS.
Things appeared to be running smoothly, and EAOS even agreed to be Oil and Energy Services’ cotenant at the Commodore Suites along Nairobi’s Ngong Road. The boat was first rocked when Mr Moore and Mr Bridgman opted to terminate the office sharing agreement, arguing that EAOS was paying for 80 per cent of the lease yet it only occupied 20 per cent of the space.
In January, Mr Moore and Mr Bridgman during a board meeting resolved to oust Mr Nyaga and Mr Mbote, then moved out of the shared office without informing their co-shareholders where EAOS was heading to.
They have attached a resignation letter that Mr Mbote allegedly refused to sign in October 2016 despite agreeing to leave EAOS.
Mr Nyaga now holds that the Britons duped him into thinking EAOS shares were all equal, only to shift goalposts by introducing a special class of shares, which had more voting power, hence more influence in the boardroom.
Mr Moore and Mr Bridgman have 110,000 common shares each, and 50,000 class B shares, which documents indicate give them more voting power. Each class B share comes with 100 votes. Other stakeholders are John Story with 500,000 common shares and BDL International with 80,000 shares.
“On or about November 2017 to January 2018, Oilfield Movers learnt that there was fraudulent misrepresentation and material non-disclosure of facts in respect to the shareholding structure of EAOS and that Mr Moore and Mr Bridgman had each been issued with 50,000 class B shares, which entitled a shareholder to an extraordinary 100 voting rights per share. Mr Moore and Mr Bridgman never brought in any clients and relied on myself and Thuku wa Thuku, who was a Kenya Energy Services employee in charge of sales. On or about January 2018, Mr Bridgman and Mr Moore moved the offices of Kenya Energy Services to an unknown location making it impossible for myself and Mr Mbote to be involved in the running of the company,” Mr Nyaga says in court papers.
He claims that his foreign counterparts duped him into believing that all shares in the company were equal, hence all stakeholders had identical voting powers.
He says he only learnt of the class B shares this year, months after he and Mr Mbote were ousted as directors. But Mr Moore says EAOS also had a higher class of shares, 100,000 of which he and Mr Bridgman acquired when they founded the company in April, 2014.
For now, Justice Francis Tuiyot has allowed EAOS access to its NIC Bank accounts, but barred the firm from dissolving any of its assets as the judge presides over the dispute.
The dispute may affect the industry given that the parties are contracted to provide services to Tullow Oil.
Tullow has just recovered from a dispute with residents demanding a bigger share of oil revenues that saw the suspension of trucking to Mombasa.
Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard
Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.
However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.
Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard
President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow
Drastic life changes affecting mental health
Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.
Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.
Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.
The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.
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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.
In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020. It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.
A study by Dr. Habil Otanga, a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.
KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.
Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.
As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.
“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”
Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.
“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.
Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.
“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”
Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.
“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.
Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.
Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.
She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.
Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.
“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added
Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.
“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and also engage in reading that would help expand their knowledge.