Fred Aminga and Nicholas Waitathu @PeopleDailyKe
Agriculture and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri has said he is being crucified for other people’s sins. Speaking yesterday during a press conference on suspicious maize payments, the CS said the scam took place way before he was appointed to head the ministry.
This even as it emerged that the ministry is locked in a Sh2.5 billion scandal on suspicious payments made to maize traders.
“I was appointed on January 27, 2018 while attending the African Union meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and I assumed office later in February,” he said, adding that farmers started getting paid in October 2017.
The cash was part Sh9.5 billion tranche from the National Treasury to the besieged ministry starting October 2017, for onward transmission to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), to pay farmers for maize produced locally.
However, the cash found its way to unscrupulous traders who pocketed the money, leading to a major outcry countrywide. Kiunjuri went ahead to share a list of 152 persons under investigations on suspicions of fraudulently obtaining cash from NCPB.
The group is said to have delivered a combined two million bags out of the 6.52 million bags delivered to NCPB raising eyebrows.
“It is interesting to note that they were paid between 63 per cent and 90 per cent of their delivered quantities between October 2017 and February 2018 amounting to Sh2.053 billion, and they are also claiming another additional Sh1.47 billion,” Kiunjuri said.
The CS said the ministry has not paid another 74 farmers whose deliveries did not match the authorised quantities by the vetting committee including farmers who delivered more than their land could conceivably produce.
The ministry which has so far received Sh9.4 billion which includes Sh7 billion paid between October 2017 and February this year and Sh1 billion paid in May coupled with Sh1.4 billion paid in October.
Kiunjuri also said he had written to Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) in February to bring to book culprits of the maize scandal following protests by maize farmers who have not been paid for deliveries to NCPB after the board which manages the Strategic Food Reserves (SFR) ran out of cash.
This was after it paid brokers who had supplied it at the expense of Kenyan farmers. These come after President Uhuru Kenyatta publicly demanded that Kiunjuri either looks for the culprits and bring them forth for punishment or carry the cross.
“Look for those stealing public resources, bring them we take them to jail or you will find yourself in trouble over these issues,” the President said during the Mashujaa Day celebrations at Bukhungu Stadium in Kakamega County. It is estimated that farmers are holding some 500,000 bags of last season’s crop worth an estimated Sh1.6 billion, saying NCPB still owes them Sh3.5 billion for maize it purchased from them for the strategic reserve.