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Leaders want CS Kiunjuri to step aside over maize scandal

Saturday May 26 2018

MAIZE SCANDAL

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri appears before the Agriculture Committee over the subsidised fertiliser scandal, at County Hall in Nairobi on April 17, 2018. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By NATION TEAM
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Leaders from the Rift Valley on Friday told Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri to step aside, blaming him for the National Cereals and Produce Board scandal.

Trans Nzoia Woman Representative Janet Nangabo told the Nation that farmers should not suffer because of greed among some State officials.

“Already farmers have borne the brunt of cartels and the fall army worm. Mr Kiunjuri and his team should step aside immediately,” she said.

Her sentiments were echoed by Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter and his Moiben counterpart Silas Tiren.

“President Kenyatta must do something. The ministry cannot claim to be unaware of what is happening at the board,” Mr Tiren said.

Mr Keter said investigations should not just target junior civil servants. “We want to see the big fish and cartels brought to book,” he said.

PROSECUTION

At the same time, Deputy President William Ruto said beneficiaries of the scandal that saw thousands of farmers denied a chance to supply maize to the board in favour of well-connected importers, would be prosecuted.

The government subsidised fertiliser is missing in stores following reports that the farm input was repackaged and sold at higher prices.

During his visits to the region in March, Mr Kiunjuri told farmers that they would be paid for maize delivered to the board. The promise is yet to be fulfilled.

Nandi Senator Samson Cheragei said the immediate former officials of NCPB should be summoned to explain what they know about the scandal. 

“I ask the Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission to arrest these people. They should be sent to prison if possible,” he added.

FRAUDSTERS
In Kisii, Mr Ruto told EACC, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the DCl to act fast and arrest those involved in the scandal.

He said anybody who swindled farmers “including one trader said to have supplied 200,000 bags of maize and has no land” will not be spared.

“We want to know how money meant for farmers ended up in the pockets of traders, businessmen and cartels,” he said.

Mr Ruto said any trader who sold maize to NCPB by lying that he or she was a farmer should be prosecuted.

Baringo Senator Gideon Moi told the President not to spare anyone involved in the country’s latest scandal.

“For months, Rift Valley leaders have complained about the farmers’ suffering. Our farmers cannot sell their maize, do not receive payments and cannot even get the subsidised fertiliser. The President should crack the whip now,” he said.

PAYMENT
The lawmaker also asked Mr Kenyatta to release extra funds to pay genuine farmers who delivered maize to the board.

He also wants the government to extend the period for loan repayment for farmers not involved in the syndicate.

In a related development, a group of farmers who delivered huge consignments to the board on Friday denied belonging to cartels that imported maize from Uganda.

Mrs Victoria Chebet Rotich from Moiben, who delivered 212,000 bags of maize to NCPB, asked the government to carry out proper investigations.

“I have been a farmer for years but nobody has ever referred to me as a cartel,” she said.

Mr Simon Changoi said he was shocked when he saw his name in the list of those being investigated.

Reported by Gerald Bwisa, Stanley Kimuge, Dennis Lubanga, Eric Matara and Ruth Mbula