, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 30 – Kenyans will in the next three weeks know if money was embezzled in the controversial maize scandal that places the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) at the centre with Sh1.9 billion claimed to have been looted.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri while reiterating the ministry’s position that no money was stolen said until a full comprehensive audit report is done by conducting a physical inventory in all the silos in the country to ascertain the truth, the Sh1.9 billion is untrue.
Kiunjuri’s narrative surfaced on Wednesday when he appeared before the National Assembly Agriculture Committee barely a week after his Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe also pitched the same argument before another watchdog committee.
“We shall only be able to establish the truth after an audit is done by finding out what is in our stores. On my part I have raised suspicion on some of the deliveries made to the cereals board and it is a matter of time before Kenyans know the truth,” said Kiunjuri.
Nandi Hills MP Alfred Keter, a friend of the committee, however took issue with Kiunjuri accusing him of misleading Kenyans about the actual facts of the money looted.
“I think it is insincere to believe that it is out of counting the stocks that Kenyans will know whether money was stolen or not. Anyone who supplied maize and is not a farmer stole money and that is what the CS is afraid of admitting,” he said.
Keter’s reasoning was backed by Moiben MP Silas Tiren who accused Kiunjuri of protecting a few high level individuals who supllied maize to the cereals board.
While admitting that there could be some involvement of powerful people behind the traders, Kiunjuri absolved himself from any wrongdoing saying he had played his part by raising the red flag on why genuine farmers were denied opportunities to supply maize.
“At a personal level I did my best in raising my concerns to the relevant authorities like the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the office of the Directorate of Public Prosecutions about the matter in the manner in which the the supplying was done,” said Kiunjuri.
He said the ministry will next month start a registration process of the farmers, a move aimed at capturing farmers land acreage and the crops farmed.
He said the registration will help in elimination of brokers in the agriculture sector who defraud the farmers especially during the crop produce sale.
“This process will go a long way in bringing sanity in how maize is supplied in the cereals board. Framers need to be protected and going forward things will certainly change,” said Kiunjuri.
He further pleaded with members and the nation to give the mandated investigating bodies ample to carry out a thorough probe before the truth is unraveled.
An internal audit from the ministry carried out this month revealed that 18 individuals received payments after delivering thousands of 90-kg bags of maize to NCPB deports in Kisumu, Nakuru, and Eldoret.
Lesiyampe who tabled the report to Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee said the 18 traders played a huge role in denying genuine farmers an opportunity to supply their maize.
According to the report, Celestine Chepchirchir delivered 226,108 bags of 50kgs to Eldoret depot and was paid Sh333 million by the board. The board has not cleared her balance of Sh62.1 million.
Stephen Maiyo was paid Sh148 million for supplying 109,506 bags of 50kg in the same depot but claims a balance of Sh43 million from the board.
At the Kisumu depot, Caroline Chepchumba was supposed to receive Sh216 million for supplying 121,617 bags of 50kgs but the board paid her Sh96.2 million. She is claiming Sh119.7 million.