Lawmaker plots to kick out Linturi over fertiliser mess

Mithika Linturi

Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development Mithika Linturi.

Photo credit: File| Nation Media Group

Plans are on to initiate an impeachment motion against Agriculture and Livestock Production Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi over the fake fertiliser scandal.

The Nation has learnt the motion against Mr Linturi is likely to be filed in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

This comes as Mr Linturi’s Health colleague Susan Nakhumicah is to face the full plenary of the House on Wednesday. She is to be questioned on doctors’ strike that is on its 31st day.

Mbeere North MP, Geoffrey Ruku, is expected to file the motion, stating the grounds and notifying National Assembly Clerk Samuel Njoroge, as he seeks Speaker Moses Wetang’ula approval to collect supporting signatures.

The Nation caught up with Mr Ruku at Parliament Buildings collecting signatures from MPs last evening. By 6pm, the form had been signed by 73 lawmakers.

“This is an impeachment motion but I will give details on Tuesday after filing with the Speaker,” Mr Ruku said.

He further said: “The majority of the MPs who have appended their signatures are from (President William Ruto’s) United Democratic Alliance (UDA). Few are from the minority side but I will talk about it later.”

Mr Linturi has been in the limelight for all the wrong reasons over fake fertiliser in the government subsidy programme. He appears to be in denial, issuing contradictory statements.

Yesterday, the government said it has withdrawn the licence of KEL Chemicals, the Thika-based company that is said to have supplied farmers with substandard fertiliser under government subsidy.

This was said by Mr Linturi moments after he visited the company and inspecting the place the fertiliser was made, mixed, packaged and eventually distributed to farmers.

“I can confirm that we have withdrawn the licence of KEL Chemicals. This area is now considered a crime scene. There will be no operations until investigations on this matter are complete,” Mr Linturi said.

The minister added that the government would not release money owed to KEL Chemicals for the fertiliser the company has already supplied until investigations are concluded.

KEL Chemicals General Manager, Chandrabhan Chimurkah, said the firm has conducted inhouse investigations and established that there was a hitch in the production of fertiliser between March 5 and 10.

This problem, he added, affected 3,000 bags, “which we are tracing”. He said 516 of the 3,000 bags have already been found and taken by the Kenya Revenue Authority for testing by relevant government authorities.

“It was a slight problem. The ingredients could have been contaminated during production. Few workers may have stepped on them or the ingredients fell and were collected and packaged,” Chimurkah said.

Mr Linturi told the Senate Agriculture Committee on Tuesday that the Kenya Bureau of Standards should take the blame for allowing substandard fertiliser in the market. He denied the existence of fake fertiliser saying it is just “substandard”.

“If the percentage of nutrients does not meet the required levels, this does not mean the fertiliser is fake,” the Agriculture Minister said.

According to the Constitution, a Cabinet Secretary can be removed from office when an MP – supported by at least one-quarter of the members of the National Assembly – proposes a motion requiring the President to dismiss him or her.

The grounds for the removal include gross violation of the Constitution or any other law and where there are reasons to believe the minister has committed a crime under national or international law.

A CS can also be removed from office for gross misconduct. Should the impeachment motion make it to the floor of the House, it will be like a 180 degrees for the former Igembe South MP who also sponsored a censure motion against current Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru decade ago.

Ms Waiguru was the Devolution CS. Having secured more than 100 signatures from MPs, Mr Linturi disappeared when the matter had been listed in the Order Paper by the House Business Committee for debate. He wanted the CS dismissed “for misusing her office in making public appointments and dismissals”.

The motion against Ms Nakhumicha is sponsored by Embakasi East MP Babu Owino. He says the Health CS is incompetent and has violated the Constitution.

“As a result of the doctors’ strike, the rights of Kenyans to life and the highest attainable standards of health have been grossly violated,” Mr Owino says in the impeachment document.

“Millions of Kenyans are unable to access care. Some have even lost their lives.” An adjournment motion by Seme MP James Nyikal seeking to discuss the strike was controversially struck out of the order paper on Thursday afternoon despite being approved by Deputy Speaker Gladys Shollei. Mr Nyikal was seeking leave of the House in order to discuss the strike. Ms Shollei had told Dr Nyikal that he would be allowed to move the motion later. However, later session chairperson Rachael Nyamai informed Dr Nyikal that his request could not be granted. The decision led to a heated debate, with Dr Nyikal questioning it.

Sending home a CS is, however, a long process. Upon receipt of the motion by the Clerk a signature on the list cannot be withdrawn. If the motion is supported by at least one-third of the MPs, an 11-member select team is named to investigate the matter. The select team then reports to the Assembly if it substantiates the claims. If the grounds are substantiated, the National Assembly shall avail the CS with the report of the select committee. If a resolution requiring the dismissal of a CS is supported by a majority of MPs, the Speaker delivers the resolution to the President and the CS is sent packing.