Mithika Linturi
Caption for the landscape image:

Ruto’s tough choices in Linturi fake fertiliser impeachment bid

Scroll down to read the article

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi addresses members of the Senate Select Committee that is considering the motion to impeach him during the hearing at County Hall Nairobi on May 9, 2024.    

Photo credit: File| Nation Media Group

President William Ruto is faced with tough choices as a National Assembly select committee delivers its verdict on an impeachment motion against Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi — the first of its kind in the post-2010 Constitution.

No matter the outcome, the President faces a tough balancing act in the next step he would be taking in the fight against corruption in the government.

If any of the allegations against the CS are substantiated, then the House will debate on it and take a vote. Should the outcome go against Mr Linturi, President Ruto will be left with no option but to dismiss him from his Cabinet position.

Since he comes from the large and restless Mt Kenya region, the President will have to deal with the politics of picking a replacement from the area to ward off any political pressure — signs the impeachment process showed.

Some Members of Parliament from the region were seeing the impeachment motion as a move to “remove” one of their own from the decision-making table.

Mr Linturi told the select committee that the trouble he has been facing for almost five years has been due to the fact that he stood with Dr Ruto when he was the Deputy President.

Should Mr Linturi survive, all eyes will be on the President to see if he retains the former MP in the same docket. The public impeachment process has dragged his name through the mud; shining the spotlight on his reputation and professional ethics.

“Perception is important, strictly speaking in this case, one does not have to need evidence at all. It is a case that can depend on perception. If you ask mama mboga what she thinks of Linturi, I am sure she will say that he should have resigned long ago as a matter of principle,” Dr John Khaminwa, the lead counsel for Bumula MP Jack Wamboka (the mover of the impeachment motion), told the committee.

The President wants to be seen fighting corruption and Parliament does not want to be perceived as being toothless. On the other hand, the opposition is keenly watching for the outcome; which could be a win or a loss. In case of a win in Parliament, both scenarios are politically injurious to the President.

“If the President loves Mr Linturi, this is the best time to sack him. Because if the select committee finds him guilty, he will not be eligible for any other job such as an ambassadorial role as he will have to be vetted by the same House that impeached him,” Mr Javas Bigambo a political analyst said.

Sources in the committee told Sunday Nation that Mr Linturi told MPs in one of the closed door sessions that he has fought many court cases, and he will prevail too in the ouster bid.

However, so critical is the select committee’s decision that if it votes for his impeachment, and the House upholds the decision, then Mr Linturi will not be eligible to hold any public office.

The Sunday Nation has also learnt that when the committee was being taken through the rules and regulations to guide the hearings, those who had asked whether they can do a minority report were told that there should only be one report.

All eyes are on the 11-member select committee chaired by Marsabit Woman Representative Naomi Waqo, which retreated to a hotel along Mombasa Road to write its final report that will be tabled in the National Assembly tomorrow.

At least seven issues raised during the hearings by the legal team of Bumula MP Mr Wamboka could sink the CS. But four issues could work in favour of Mr Linturi, and that might see him retain his job.

The politics of the day, the bipartisan support the motion received in the floor of the House, claims of Mr Linturi applying double standards, failure to follow or adhere to three laws: Fertiliser and Animal Stuffs Act, the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) Act, Leadership and Integrity Act; and the fact that the final decision in a ministry lies with the Cabinet Secretary will play a significant role in the ouster trial. And that could be injurious to Mr Linturi.

However, the politics of the day; the disjointed accounts given by farmers, no sufficient proof on accusations of committing a crime, and lack of an official document signed by Mr Linturi on procurement of the fertiliser could all work in favour of the CS.


Another key win for Mr Linturi was the committee’s refusal to invite two key witnesses, Principal Secretary Paul Rono and KEL Chemicals Chief Operating Officer Devesh Patel to testify.

The bipartisan support the motion received on the floor of the House could put the committee in a fix on whether it can overturn a decision made by 149 MPs. That could have huge ramifications.

Although impeachment on paper is a legal process, in reality, it’s a political process and if Kenya Kwanza MPs are whipped, they can save the CS. The political factor, therefore, cuts across as it can work for or against the CS.

If the voting pattern taken by the committee on whether to call two key witnesses is maintained, Mr Linturi could be off the hook.

During the consideration of the motion on the floor of the House, Ms Waqo, Rachael Nyamai (Kitui South), George Murugara (Tharaka), Malulu Injendi (Malava) Njeri Maina (Kirinyaga) and Kasim Tandaza (Matuga) all voted against the motion.

Impeachment trial: CS Linturi takes the stand - Day 2

The same MPs voted against calls to invite the Agriculture PS and the KEL Chemicals Chief Operating Officer.

Those who voted to have the CS impeached and sit in the committee are Robert Mbui (Kathiani), TJ Kajwang’ (Ruaraka) and Catherine Omanyo (Busia). Yusuf Farah (Wajir) was not in the House during the vote.

Ainabkoi MP Samuel Chepkonga, who is now a member of the committee, voted alongside those who opposed the calling of the two key witnesses.

Motion mover Mr Wamboka has already expressed concern that nothing will change as the same voting line is likely to be maintained in order to save the CS.

If the committee finds at least one ground substantiated and the House is called to take a vote, MPs especially from Rift Valley, will be at a crossroads. Some may vote for the motion for the sake of farmers who are key members in their constituencies.

The opposition has, so far, done well in portraying the motion as a fight for common farmers in the Rift Valley and Central Kenya in order to get support from lawmakers in those regions.

Mr Wamboka’s argument has been that Mr Linturi is sabotaging the President in his quest to ensure the country is food secure.

Mr Linturi played videos during the committee hearings of success stories of farmers who used the fertiliser in the government subsidy programme, but when it came to the question of the fake fertiliser, he distanced himself from the failure.

He said that he is not the accounting officer and instead put the blame on the PS Paul Ronoh and the bosses at National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB.)

Jack Wanami Wamboka

Bumula MP Jack Wanami Wamboka, the sponsor of the impeachment motion against Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi before the 11-member select committee on May 7, 2024.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Mr Chepkonga and Mr Kajwang’, however, put Mr Linturi to task on when the responsibility to purchase fertiliser shifted to the NCPB.

“Are you aware that the NCPB by law is not mandated to purchase or tender for fertiliser. The responsibility of NCPB is to purchase maize, wheat and other agricultural products. So you bestowed powers to an institution to purchase fertiliser which is not granted by the law?” Mr Chepkonga asked the CS.

Despite Mr Linturi shifting blame to officials at the NCPB, Mr Chepkonga said NCPB Act does not give express mandate for the purchase of fertiliser. In response, the CS said that they will align the Act to reflect the new function of the board.

Mr Kajwang’ said the Fertiliser and Animal Foodstuffs Act was amended in 2015 and has been in force since then, but the board envisioned in the Act has not been appointed to date.

“The failure to have this board has made Kenyans to suffer, and they are now watching to see whether the law will apply across board or if it’s only for the mama mboga,” said Counsel Asha Bashir for Mr Wamboka.

Mr Kajwang’ also pointed out to the CS that in the NCPB Act, there is no authority with power to procure and distribute fertiliser.

Although some of the farmers’ statements were disjointed, they showed the select committee that ordinary people were affected by the fake fertiliser. This poses another headache for the committee when it will be making its final decision.

Mr Linturi was put on the spot for denying the contents of letters written by PS Rono dated December 5, 2023, January 22, 2024 and March 20, 2024 to the NCPB on the fake fertiliser, with the committee raising questions on their working relationship.

Mr Wamboka also argued that Mr Linturi cannot exonerate himself from the procurement process of the fake fertiliser as the process starts at policy level which is in the domain of the Cabinet Secretary.

When the CS was asked by Kathiani MP Robert Mbui on who should take responsibility on the fertiliser saga, he apportioned blame on the manufacturer.

“The duty of responsibility is on the manufacturer himself. When the fertiliser was put in our system nobody knew some did not meet our standards,” Mr Linturi said.

Dr John Khaminwa, who is Mr Wamboka’s counsel, called on the committee not to delve on technicalities of the motion before them but look at the matter broadly and based on perception to send Mr Linturi home.

He also argued that the case should be determined on moral ground and not on technicalities as other cases in court.

“Parliament must rise to the occasion and tell people like Linturi to go, we have had enough of you,” Dr Khaminwa said.

Mr Linturi is, however, likely to get reprieve as his legal team successfully poked holes on issues raised in ground two on committing crime in national law.

Some issues raised in ground two had already been determined by the House during vetting, files of some of the cases were closed by the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations.

“The CS cannot be removed from office on matters the House had already considered and approved him for appointment,” argued Mr Muthomi Thiankolu for Mr Linturi.

The team thrashed the disjointed accounts of farmers as witness statements, lack of signatures or ID numbers. Mr Wamboka’s team also failed to produce a single written procurement document signed by Mr Linturi in the purchase of the fake fertiliser.

Mr Linturi’s counsel told the committee that government directives and communication on a policy are done in writing and not verbally hence the failure to produce any letter authored by the CS indicate he had no role in the procurement of the fake fertiliser that found its way to the market.

Politics of the day could also work against or in favour of the besieged CS as some MPs say that there was no intervention from the State House on the voting, a move that could be corrected this time round, should the matter be subjected to a vote again.

Mr Linturi cleverly played to the gallery during his submission pulling out the politics by claiming that he is a victim of a smear campaign that started with the previous regime which was determined to paint him as corrupt because he stood with Ruto when he was Deputy President.

Mr Wamboka while maintaining that he has nothing personal against the CS said even if the bid fails, Mr Linturi will have a difficult time discharging his duties because of the angry farmers.

“In fact, we are saving the CS because assuming the motion doesn’t go through, how will he serve? How will he go to Ahero, Kiambu, Bumula and the bread basket of this country-Trans Nzoia because those Kenyans are angry and bitter with him,” Mr Wamboka said.

He also revealed that should the committee save Mr Linturi, he will resort to other means which he did mention.

“There are many ways of killing a rat, some give it poison while others like me just sit on it. This will not be the end of this case. Mithika Linturi must just go,” Mr Wamboka said.

Mr Waqo assured the parties that their report be based on the evidence presented before the committee.