Agriculture Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe and top National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) managers have been arrested over the irregular purchase of maize by the agency.
The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) is on the spot over some Sh1.9 billion paid to traders who supplied it with huge quantities of maize at the expense of farmers.
The Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji on Thursday directed the arrest and prosecution of the PS and six other top officials including former NCPB MD Newton Terer over the irregular purchase.
“The Principal Secretary Agriculture irregularly authorized the expenditure and failed to ensure that the purchase of maize was done in accordance with the law. The Managing Director NCPB willfully failed to ensure that the procurement of maize was done in accordance with the law” Haji said in a statement.
He added, “ the investigation revealed that the NCPB officials, Agricultural Officers, Chiefs and Assistant Chiefs colluded with the traders to facilitate the fraudulent payments to the detriment of vetted fanners”.
Haji said investigations had revealed that the agency spent slightly over Ksh11B, exceeding the Ksh6B budgeted for.
“Upon investigations, it was established that NCPB spent Sh11,365,879,918 thereby exceeding the Sh6 billion budgeted for,” Mr Haji said.”The STROB had budgeted to purchase 2 million bags of maize for financial year 2017/18 at Sh6 billion. This expenditure was not budgeted for contrary to the law.”
EACC confirmed the arrest of the PS and NCPB GM Finance, Cornel Kiprotich Ng’elechey adding that it was hunting for 15 other officials implicated in the scandal that hit maize farmers hard.
Other wanted officials are former NCPB Managing Director Newton Terer, Accounts Clerk Caroline Kipchoge Cherono, Eldoret Silo Manager Renson Kibet Korir, Records Officer, Eldoret Depot, Eric Kipketer Talum and Mr Joseph Kipruto Cheboi, the County Director of Agriculture.
The suspects will be charged with several offenses including wilful failure to comply with the law relating to management of public property, unauthorised spending of public funds, conspiracy to defraud, abuse of office and neglect of official duty.