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NCPB paid Sh1bn to illegal maize traders

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Crop Development principal secretary Richard Lesiyampe when he appeared before the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee yesterday. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG

The National Cereals and Produce Board’s (NCPB) has paid 18 maize merchants, who failed its vetting, a total of Sh1.05 billion, Parliament heard Thursday.

Preliminary findings of an internal audit that was conducted on the purchase of maize to replenish the  Strategic Food Reserves indicates that eight traders out of the 18 pocketed a total of Sh607.8 million.

The eight traders supplied 427,784 bags of 50kg maize to NCPB’s Eldoret depot and have so far been paid Sh607.8 million, leaving a balance of Sh265 million.

The list of traders, who failed the vetting test but went ahead to supply maize includes Celestine Chepchirchir who was paid Sh333 million, Alice Wanjiku Githaiga (Sh46.8 million) and Paul Kibichy Bieogo (Sh18 million).

The list of suppliers also includes Stephen Kiprob Tanui (not paid), John Tanui Kosgei (Sh10.2 million), Anthony Kipng’etich Chebii (Sh12.2 million, David Kimutai Cherop (Sh14.3 million) and Paul Kipyego Marus (Sh24.9 million).

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The audit report, which was submitted to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), shows that five dealers, who supplied grain to the NCPB depot in Kisumu were paid a total of Sh130 million. “Unfortunately, all the five were found to be traders and therefore failed the vetting although Sh130,074,459.40 had been paid, the report says, adding that the five suppliers are still awaiting payment of Sh286,489,144.

Crop Development principal secretary  Richard Lesiyampe, who submitted the report to Parliament, said the vetting was supposed to disqualify middlemen who only supplied maize but are not farmers.

Dr Lesiyampe said the audit was conducted only on those who supplied more than 10,000 bags of maize.

The report has named the five suppliers of maize to NCPB Kisumu depot as Caroline Chepchumba, who supplied 216,003,953 bags of 50kgs of maize, Richard Kiprotich Koech (23,004,047 bags), Rodney Kimutai (27,456,729), Simon Kipkosgei Changwony (56,927,557 bags) and Stephen Kiprob Maiyo (57,052,242 bags).

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The five traders supplied a combined 380,417,530 bags to the Kisumu depot and have been paid Sh130 million leaving a balance of Sh286.5 million. The internal audit report also shows that out of the 970 farmers/suppliers who delivered maize to the NCPB’s Nakuru depot, 18 supplied more than 10,000 50kg bags.

Eighteen farmers were vetted and nine who had named a Rongai chief as their witness during application for maize purchase form disowned.

Eight suppliers/farmers-Daniel Ngetich, Evans Amdanyi, Grace W Maguta, Enock Kibowen Limo, Esther Nyambugi Thuku, Veronica Gachunji and Beatrice W Manjai-supplied Nakuru depot with maize valued at Sh156,441,643 out of which Sh30.5 million was paid, leaving an outstanding balance of Sh125.96 million.

“Therefore, in Nakuru region, the only amount owed to the vetted farmers stands at Sh215 million,” the report states.

The internal audit team concludes that numerous anomalies in the vetting of farmers in North and South Rift means only Sh3,095,072,896 may be considered for payment.

“As mentioned the amount which may be considered for payment is only Sh3.09 billion arrived at by subtracting the amount that failed the vetting Sh376.78 million but remains unpaid from the total outstanding balance held by NCPB (Sh3.47 billion),” the report says.

NCPB has already paid Sh5.23 billion out of a total of Sh8.7 billion worth of the maize that the board received in Eldoret, Moi’s Bridge, Kitale, Kisumu, Bungoma and Nakuru depots.

“Something striking is that there are cases where one individual would deliver a huge amount of maize to NCPB through Eldoret, Nakuru and Kisumu depots,” Opiyo Wandayi,  who chairs PAC, said.

Mr Wandayi, MPs Alfred Keter (Nandi Hills) and Silas Tiren (Moiben) said the committee will summon all the 18 individuals as it seeks to unmask the real faces behind the scam. 

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