Queries over Sh333m maize earnings
A trader was paid Sh333 million for delivering 226,000 bags of maize in one of the transactions under scrutiny in the Sh11 billion payouts by the cereals board.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri told a parliamentary committee that the payments to Celestine Chepchiri, who is recorded to have made more than 700 trips to deliver the consignments of 50kg bags to the National Cereals and Produce Board’s Eldoret depot, was among the questionable dealings.
Kiunjuri promises to name ‘big fish’ in maize scandal
Together with Alice Wanjiku Githaiga, also from Eldoret, who was paid Sh47 million for 39,869 bags, the two traders used the same IDs representing three different farmers each.
Kiunjuri said these were among 63 suspicious deliveries documented in the latest Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock internal report, which he tabled before the National Assembly’s Agriculture Committee yesterday.
The CS said powerful Kenyans were behind the suspicious supplies at the national stores that denied at least 4,000 genuine farmers an opportunity to benefit from the Government’s price of Sh3,200 for each 90kg bag.
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“Somebody was behind these unscrupulous traders and the truth will come out once the audit is done. Influential people are definitely not in my ministry, but even some sitting MPs have alluded to the fact that they are traders,” said Kiunjuri when hard pressed by MPs to name the culprits.
All this emerged during the three-hour grilling of Kiunjuri, Principal Sectary Richard Lesiyampe and Chief Administrative Secretary Andrew Tuimur by MPs seeking to establish if taxpayers got value for money as well as quantify the loss.
The CS remained noncommittal and promised to give the figure in 21 days after carrying out a countrywide physical stocktaking audit on whether 6 million 90kg bags of maize supplied to the national stores at a cost of Sh11 billion were actually delivered.
The revelations emerged as Kiunjuri blamed the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) for failing to act fast, despite raising the red flag in March over suspicious supplies undertaken in three months and payments done in two to three days.
“An officer from the ministry recorded a statement with the EACC so that investigations could begin,” the CS said, adding that Lesiyampe called the DCI, who sent another officer to record a statement on the issues raised by the ministry as well as the ethics body.
According to the CS, the data from the NCPB headquarters and the one provided at the depot, as well as that entered in the black book had inconsistencies.
There were also indications that some maize suppliers had not filled the supply forms.
“The vice took place between December 2017 and February 2018. We have acted and 13 senior officers have been affected. I acted and now what remains is for the investigating agencies,” said the CS, noting that former CEO Newton Terer had resigned while seven regional officers were suspended.