Top officials under Kenya maize probe

January 21, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 21 – Cabinet Ministers, assistants and prominent businessmen are among high level personalities being investigated for alleged involvement in the maize scandal.

Internal Security Minister Professor George Saitoti said on Wednesday that police were under instructions not to spare anyone in the ongoing probe.

He said the food crisis was a ‘very serious security concern’ because of the consequences involved.

“It is a matter we are treating very very seriously, in fact we are not going to spare anyone. No matter what position one holds, they will have to face the consequences,” the Minister said.

“Already investigations are under way and several people are being questioned. No stone will be left unturned in this particular matter,” he said and declined to reveal names of those under investigations.

“I am not the kind of person who throws names in a very careless manner. If one person is found to be implicated in this matter, action will be taken and I can assure you, very very soon the crooks will be brought to book,” he said at the Uhuru Camp in Nairobi when he flagged off some 410 vehicles for the regular and Administration Police.

He said the government was particularly concerned that influential politicians were collaborating with unscrupulous maize dealers to divert the grain from the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) for sell in other countries.

There have been reports of some of the maize being exported to Southern Sudan where a 90-kilogram bag is retailing at Sh6,000 or more.

“We are very concerned that there could have been people who have actually interfered with the food and diverted either out of the country or even diverted it in a different way in order to make money,” he said.

Professor Saitoti said investigations on the Triton fuel saga were also progressing well and assured that culprits will soon ‘face the law.’

“No one will be spared in both the cases, all the culprits will have to face the law,” he said.

Investigations on the food shortage and the fuel scandal are being carried out by the police and the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC).

Well placed sources told Capital News at least two politicians and senior officials at the NCPB had been questioned over the maize scandal.

“The investigations are wide, three other high-ranking government officials and politicians will record statements with us. At the end of it, people will have to go to court,” he said.

The government last week declared the food crisis a national disaster and launched a Sh37 billion international appeal for food relief.

President Mwai Kibaki said the current famine was affecting more than 10 million people mainly in the drought-hit parts of the nation.

The crisis was compounded by crop failure in most parts of the country and the December 2007 disputed Presidential election that degenerated into chaos.

Rift Valley Province which is the nation’s grain basket was the worst-hit area, where nearly half or more of the 300,000 people were displaced.

Some 1,800 people were killed at the time as rival political camps of President Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) and Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) disagreed over disputed poll results.


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