What you need to know:
- Cartels are said to have profited from payments made by the National Cereals and Produce Board at the expense of genuine farmers.
- Former Agriculture Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe and former NCPB Managing Director Newton Terer are among those arrested and charged.
The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) has intensified the hunt for more suspects in the Sh11.3 billion maize scandal.
The EACC deputy director in charge of North Rift, Mr Jackson Mue, on Thursday said they have received crucial leads on the scandal.
Cartels are said to have profited from payments made by the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) at the expense of genuine farmers.
“Our officers are on the ground and we will soon catch up with the suspects to unearth the truth regarding the maize scandal,” Mr Mue said.
He was non-committal on when the arrests will be made but told suspects who are still at large to surrender to anti-graft officers.
The detectives have been pitching camp in various NCPB depots in western Kenya region where the cheap maize suspected to be from Uganda and Mexico was delivered and prompt payment made to the cartels.
Eldoret, Moi’s Bridge, Kitale, Nakuru, Bungoma and Kisumu are some of the depots under investigation.
“Some of the key suspects linked to the scandal have been arraigned before anti-corruption courts in Nairobi while others appeared in Kisumu,” Mr Mue said.
Former Agriculture Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe and former NCPB Managing Director Newton Terer are among those arrested and charged.
According to Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji, investigations into the irregularities established that NCPB officials, agricultural officers and chiefs colluded with traders to facilitate delivery of maize to the Kisumu depot, resulting in fraudulent payments.
Meanwhile, maize farmers in the North Rift region are faced with market challenges for their produce after the government capping of 400 bags at Sh1 million to enable most farmers benefit from the scheme.
Commercial maize farmers in the region on Thursday termed the scheme punitive, arguing that it will lock out most of them from benefiting from the Sh2,500 per 90kg bag of maize offered by the government.
“Agriculture forms the pillar of the Big Four Agenda and the current system will force most of the farmers to scale down their production,” Mr James Songok, a maize farmer from Kerita, Uasin Gishu County, said.