Kebs MD Bernard Njiraini, 26 officers suspended over release, sale of bad sugar

Benard Njiraini

The Managing Director, Kenya Bureau of Standards Liutenant (Rtd) Benard Njiraini. 

Photo credit: File I Nation Media Group

The government has suspended 27 officers from a dozen institutions who aided the release of expired sugar that was earmarked for destruction in 2018, a move that posed risk to citizens that may have purchased the product.

Head of Public Service Felix Koskei on Wednesday announced that the suspensions have been instigated by two ministries – the National Treasury headed by Njuguna Ndung’u and Investments and Trade headed by Moses Kuria – pending completion of investigations into the incident.

The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) had deemed the 20,000 bags of sugar unfit for human consumption and directed that it be converted into industrial ethanol.

But the consignment was instead released into the market.

“The industrial ethanol conversion was to be implemented under the joint supervision of Kebs and Nema under a multiagency framework. It has since been established that the consignment was irregularly diverted and unprocedurally released. Further, the conditions relating to open and competitive enlisting of the distiller were breached and the applicable taxes were not paid,” Mr Koskei said in a statement.

The institutions whose officers have been suspended are Kebs, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), the National Police Service, the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI), Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA), Port Health Services.

Others are the National Environment Management Authority (Nema), Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA), Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (Kephis), the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC).

The Kebs officers are Bernard Njiraini (Managing Director), Geoffrey Murira, Hilda Keror, Liston Lagat, Rono Birgen, Stephen Owuor and Peter Olima.

At the KRA the suspensions affect Joseph Kaguru, Mwanja Masinde, Stephen Muiruri, Moses Okoth, Doris Mutembei, Chacha Hondo, Carol Nyagechi and Derick Kago.

NPS officers George Mithamo and Joel Kirui have also been suspended alongside DCI detectives Bernard Ngumi and Raphael Mwaka.

At the AFA, Oscar Kai and Patrick Magut have been suspended.

Others are Joseph Maita Mweni (Port Health Services), Isacko Bonai (Nema), Stephen Cheruiyot (ACA), Daniel Ngugi (Kephis), Willy Koskei (EACC) and Edwin Ruto (KPA).

The investigation is intended to establish whether the suspended officers will stand trial for various charges including abuse of office.