, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 13 – President Mwai Kibaki on Saturday suspended four Permanent Secretaries mentioned adversely in the Subsidized Maize Scheme Audit Report and the Free Primary Education Programme to allow for an independent probe.
In a brief statement, President Kibaki said the officials should vacate office for three months to allow for proper, independent and accurate investigations into the allocation and application of funds under the two programmes.
The officials include Education Permanent Secretary Karega Mutahi, Romano Kiome (Agriculture), Mohamed Isahakia (Office of the PM) and Ali Mohamed (Special Programmes).
"Other officials include: Administrative Secretary, Office of the Prime Minister, Karoli Omondi, Managing Director, National Cereals and Produce Board, Gideon Misoi, Mr. Boit, Sales and Marketing Manager – National Cereals and Produce Board, and Mr. Langat, General Manager -National Cereals and Produce Board, who is currently on suspension," the statement said.
President Kibaki reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to fighting corruption and assured of speedy and conclusive investigations on use of public resources.
The statement came hours after Mr Isahakia and Mr Omondi announced that they were stepping aside until the Maize Scandal saga is resolved.
An audit report on the maize scandal by PriceWaterhouseCoopers called for further investigations on the two.
The maize scandal involves 3.4 million bags of maize sold from the Strategic Grain Reserve in 2008 at a time the country was experiencing an acute food shortage and drought.
Following revelations that his officers were suspects in the scandal pressure started building on the PM to resign.
PNU MPs have been challenging the premier to lead by example and take political responsibility for the Sh2 billion maize scandal at his doorstep and for failing to supervise and coordinate ministries accordingly.
The Ministry of Education has been in a spot since last December, when UK officials suspended funding citing the loss of about Sh100 million meant to fund education.
President Kibaki last December ordered the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate the scandal, with the anti-graft body promising a report by mid-last month. The report is still being awaited.
On Thursday, Prof Ongeri said a validation report commissioned by the Ministry showed that the government lost Sh91 million in the scandal and not Sh100 million as reported in the media.
The two officials found themselves in more trouble as they were probed by a parliamentary committee on why they authorised the expenditure such large sums within two months.
Education Minister Prof Sam Ongeri and Prof Mutahi have maintained their innocence over the misappropriated cash.