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NCPB graft suspects deny charges

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Goods at the National Cereals and Produce Board depot in Eldoret. PHOTO | FILE 

Ten suspects arrested over corruption at the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) on Thursday denied the charges before the Anti-Corruption Court in Kisumu.

The accused are Mr Willy Kipkoech Kosgey (silo manager, Kisumu) Mr Renson Kibet Korir (silo manager, Eldoret), Mr Thomas Kipkurgat (Soi Ward extension officer) and Kisumu Deputy Silo Manager Jeremiah Omutsani Omwayi.

Others are Laban Momanyi Michira (a cashier at the NCPB offices in Kisumu), David Bargetuny Korir (an assistant chief of Sionim), Willie Kipkoech (Kimumu Ward Assistant Agricultural Officer), Caroline Chepchumba, Rodney Kimutai and Stephen Kiprob Maiyo (all traders).

Another suspect - Victoria Jebet Rotich (a trader) - did not appear in court, with the defence team saying she is admitted at Avenue Health Centre in Nairobi.

Principal Magistrate Patrick Olengo released the nine men and one woman on a Sh5 million bond each and a surety of a similar amount. He also ordered those with passports to deposit them in court.

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Olengo directed that the accused be held at Kodiaga Maximum Prison as their bail is being processed.

“After considering all relevant factors, I reach to the agreement that this is not a case fit for cash bail," stated Olengo.

Fraud

In the first count, the ten suspects were charged with conspiracy to commit an economic crime, contrary to the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Act, 2003.

The charge sheet stated that between October 17, 2017 and June 1, 2018 the accused conspired to fraudulently acquire public property worth Sh110m from NCPB.

Mr Willie Sang faced the highest number of charges at five.

Apart from the conspiracy charge, the Kimumu Ward Assistant Agricultural Officer faced other four counts of abuse of office for irregularly signing ministry of agriculture vetting forms which facilitated Ms Chepchumba’s irregular supply of maize to the Kisumu depot.

Mr Kosgey and his deputy Mr Omwayi faced three other charges - two of failure to comply with the laws and applicable procedures and guidelines relating to the management of public funds and the other of abuse of office.

The two are blamed of failing to act to ensure funds allocated for the maize purchase in the period 2017/2018 were prudently applied towards purchasing of grains from the rightful farmers in accordance to NCPB’s guidelines.

The inaction is said to have led to irregular payment of Sh110m by the depot.

Unregistered farmers

On the charge of abuse of office, Mr Kosgey and Mr Omwayi are said to have used their office to improperly confer a benefit of Sh102 million and Sh7.7 million to unregistered farmers, Ms Chepchumba and Mr Maiyo respectively.

Mr Korir and Mr Momanyi faced a similar second charge.

The two were accused of failure to comply with laws and applicable procedures and guidelines relating to the management of public funds by facilitating maize delivery by Ms Chepchumba resulting to irregular payment of Sh 102 million.

Meanwhile, Ms Chepchumba, Mr Kimutai and Mr Maiyo’s second charge was fraudulent acquisition of public property while Ms Rotich’s was dealing with suspect property by receiving Sh70,166,237,00 from Ms Chepchumba.

Principal Magistrate Olengo set December 27, 2018 as the next mention date of the matter.

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