NAIROBI, Kenya (ViaNews) – Eight National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) suspects have been arraigned in court and charged in relations to the scandal involving hundreds of millions of taxpayers money.

This is part of a vicious crackdown protocol initiated by President Uhuru Kenyatta earlier this year in a bid to change the landscape of the country. Under his administration, reports have indicated that Kenya has been at his highest corruption point within the government.

A snippet of the names of NCPB officials and other stakeholders who are persons of interest in the Ksh.468 million maize scandal. Photo by: ViaNews.
A snippet of the names of NCPB officials and other stakeholders who are persons of interest in the Ksh.468 million maize scandal.

For his involvement in authorising the unsanctioned purchase of maize, Director of Public Prosecutions, Noodrin Haji, ordered for the arrest of Agriculture Principal Secretary Dr Richard Lesiyampe. Also in the law enforcers’ grasp is NCPB General Manager of Finance, Cornel Kiprotich.

Those also in the hot seat who appeared in court on Friday include: NCPB Managing Director, Newton Terer, County Director of Agriculture Joseph Cheboi, Accounts Clerk Caroline Cherono and silo Manager at Eldoret Eric Kipketer. Other officials who have NCPB who have also been targeted are; Virginia Njoroge, Paul Kipyego, Stephen Kiprop, Peter Chirchir and David Korir.

It is alleged that the NCPB operated over the stipulated budget that stretched into billions of Kenya shillings. Haji revealed that the NCPB spent Sh.11 billion from 2016 as an authority for the Strategic Food Reserve Board. This was over their operational budget of Sh.6 billion. This begs the question, just where is the rest of the money?

A view of the charge sheet of the charge sheet presented in court. Up to 16 people have been arraigned in the NCPB maize scandal. Photo by: Via News
A view of the charge sheet of the charge sheet presented in court. Up to 16 people have been arraigned in the NCPB maize scandal.
Via News TV

According to the charge sheet that Via News is in possession of, eight of the 15 suspects on Friday faced charges of Conspiracy to commit an offence of Economic Crime which violates Section 47 (A) (3) and Section 48 (1) of the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, 2003.

The official charge by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions states, “Between 17th October 2017 and 1st June 2018 between Nakuru, Eldoret within Nairobi and Uasin Gishu Counties being Public Officers and traders respectively, jointly conspired to commit an offence of corruption namely; fraudulent acquisition of public property, through irregular supply and purchase of maize to the National Cereals and Produce Board Eldoret resulting into fraudulent acquisition of the sum Ksh.468,950,293.50 being public funds intended to benefit registered and vetted farmers.”

Relentless Haji

Haji has been a ruthless prosecutor ever since his appointment in March 2018. After serving as Deputy Director, Economic Crimes in the National Intelligence Service, he has had his plate full in a bid to clean up house. Haji has not been shy to go after the very top brass in the government.

His efforts, however, hit a temporary snag on Thursday as disgruntled Deputy Chief Justice Philomena Mwilu successfully stopped criminal proceedings against herself. Mwilu, who is the second highest ranking judge in the country faced charges regarding her handling of Imperial Bank cases.
Haji’s move to go after Mwilu is a statement that no one is safe and will surely boost Kenyans’ belief in the system. At the moment, all indicators point to an increased crackdown by Haji on all government officials who are deemed to be involved in corruption.