, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 24 – Three Permanent Secretaries suspended two weeks ago over the maize scandal were grilled by detectives at the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission (KACC) on Wednesday.
Mohammed Isahakia of the Prime Minister’s Office, Romano Kiome (Agriculture) and Ali Mohammed (Special Programs) were suspended two weeks ago by President Mwai Kibaki, following an audit report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) which recommended further investigations over the loss of some 3.4 million bags of maize from the Strategic Grain Reserve in 2008, at the time the country was experiencing an acute food shortage caused by drought.
“I am completely innocent in this issue, I have done my best and I will continue to do my best in serving this nation,” Mr Mohammed said when he emerged from a grilling session at KACC headquarters.
Asked if he had been unfairly targeted in the investigation, Mr Mohammed said: “I will tell you that in the positions that we are, we make decisions on the basis of the best available information at the time in order to serve the nation.”
“We think that we have made the right decisions at the right time,” he stressed.
An official at the KACC told Capital News that Mr Isahakia had been questioned at their offices in the morning before journalists arrived there.
Mr Kiome of the Ministry of Agriculture was also questioned by the detectives in the afternoon shortly after a senior official who was in charge of Marketing at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) recorded his statement.
A senior detective at the KACC told Capital News that the officials were required to explain circumstances under which maize was sold from the Strategic Grain Reserve through dubious deals at the time millions of Kenyans were starving.
“We had carried out this investigation before, but after the PWC report was released, it recommended further investigations on specific individuals,” the officer said.
“The officers handling the case have gone through the entire report and find it necessary to have these Permanent Secretaries and other officials questioned, I can not share the details of their statements, perhaps you can wait until we finish the investigation. We have more officers lined for questioning before the end of the week.”
The officer who can not be named because he is not authorised to issue official statements on behalf of the KACC said “the investigation will be accelerated to ensure those found culpable are arraigned in court before the end of next month.”
President Mwai Kibaki when suspending the three PS’s and other officials from three Ministries announced that those found to be innocent would be reinstated on completion of the investigation which will take three months.
Other officials suspended include the Administrative Secretary in the Office of the Prime Minister, Caroli Omondi, NCPB Managing Director Gideon Misoi, Mr Boit who was in charge of Sales and Marketing at the NCPB and the Board’s General Manager Mr Langat.