Maize brought into the country from Uganda was delivered to six National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) depots in Western Kenya by cartels who received Sh2 billion at the expense of genuine farmers.
Senior managers and key staff at the six depots suspected to be involved in the scandal have been interrogated by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and are expected to be charged with corruption.
EACC deputy director in charge of North Rift Jackson Mue on Tuesday said 70 per cent of the Sh2 billion was transacted in the six depots.
“We have compiled a list of officers and farmers suspected to have been involved in the scam and their names will be made public tomorrow,” said Mr Mue, adding that they will appear in court soon.
The NCPB depots in question are Eldoret, Moi’s Bridge, Kitale, Bungoma, Kisumu and Nakuru.
“More NCPB staff and farmers are to be interrogated and, if implicated, they will be arraigned in court to answer charges of misuse of public funds,” said Mr Mue.
According to the official, the scandal involves several individuals who delivered the cheaply imported maize to NCPB depots at night and received prompt payment.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri has acknowledged that some powerful individuals were behind the maize scam.
But he maintains that the officials are not from his ministry and has promised to table an audit report on the scam’s beneficiaries.
Leaders from the North Rift have demanded an independent audit to determine the quantity of maize delivered to the depots. Led by Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter and his Moiben counterpart Sila Tiren, they said the audit will expose individuals behind the scandal.
Meanwhile, a section of MPs including Mr Moses Kuria (Gatundu South), Mr Ferdinand Wanyonyi (Kwanza), Mr Oku Kaunya (Teso North) and Mr Richard Onyonka (Kitutu Chache South), have told the Agriculture ministry and the Treasury to fast-track farmers’ payments, which have been suspended.
“We want Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri to ensure funds are made available to pay farmers as investigations into the scandal go on,” said Mr Kuria in Trans Nzoia.
The leaders spoke during a funds drive towards the completion of St Teresa’s Namanjalala Catholic Church in Kwanza Sub-County.
Mr Wanyonyi said they will present a motion to Parliament, on resumption on Tuesday, to compel the Agriculture ministry to ensure cases of corruption are properly handled.
“We want to see action that will bring an end to this menace that has been affecting farmers. It can’t be business as usual when our farmers are suffering,” said the MP who is a member of the Agriculture committee.
Mr Onyonka said the government must protect economic ventures that uplift the livelihoods of the public to ensure that corruption does not destroy them.
“We have to safeguard the interests of Kenyan farmers by ensuring they have a better market for their produce. The cartels have to be dealt with to avoid such cases,” said the MP.
Several NCPB senior managers have been suspended to pave way for investigations.
Reported by Barnabas Bii, Titus Ominde and Gerald Bwisa for Daily Nation