More suspects are to be charged as the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) concludes investigations into the third phase of the Sh11.3 billion maize scandal even as farmers grapple with market challenges for their produce.
EACC executive director in charge of North Rift Jackson Mue on Wednesday said the agency has received crucial leads on how the cartels profited from payments made by the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) at the expense of genuine farmers.
“We expect to make more arrests in the ongoing crackdown on suspects linked to the scandal and arraign them,” said Mr Mue.
More than 10 suspects among them senior Ministry of Agriculture officials, NCPB staff, assistant chiefs, traders and farmers have been arrested and charged in Nairobi while others appeared before an anti-corruption court in Kisumu.
Among those arrested is former Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries state department of Agriculture Richard Lesiyampe and former NCPB Managing Director Newton Terer. They have since appeared in court to face charges.
Mr Mue exonerated EACC staff against claims that they were involved in extortion of money from traders in Nandi County.
“We have not received complaints that any of our staff were demanding money from traders. Stiff disciplinary measures will however be taken against those implicated in the act,” said Mr Mue.
Several people among them timber dealers, traders and bank officials have complained over harassment by the alleged rogue EACC officials.
“We have launched investigations into individuals who have been impersonating EACC officials and extorting money from the public,” said Mr Mue.
Maize farmers in the North Rift region are faced with market challenges after the government capped grain buying by NCPB at 400 bags worth Sh1 million to enable most growers to benefit from the scheme.
Farmers yesterday, however, termed the scheme as punitive arguing that it will lock out most of them from benefitting from the Sh2,500 per 90 kg of maize offered by the government.
“Agriculture forms the pillars of the 'Big Four Agenda' and the current system will force most of the farmers to scale down their production,” said Mr James Songok, a farmer from Uasin Gishu County.