Wednesday, February 11, 2009




By Lucianne Limo

The maize scandal took a dramatic turn when it emerged 15 MPs are among those who solicited for maize allocation for themselves and their cronies at the troubled National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).

Even as this came to light, Justice Minister Martha Karua went on a bare-knuckled attack on Agriculture Minister William Ruto under whose docket the NCPB falls.

Responding to allegations by Ruto that her weekend call for him to resign was linked to her efforts to lure him into a political partnership for 2012, Ms Karua said the minister should be held responsible for the maize scandal. Documents in our possession show how several MPs wrote request notes to NCPB Managing Director Gideon Misoi, asking for allocation of between 500 and 60,000 bags of maize. In their requests, most cited food shortage in their constituencies.

The Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission also swung into action by summoning some MPs and senior Government officials for questioning. Several Government officials also made similar requests between October and December last year.

Livestock Minister Mohamed Abdi Kuti wrote to the NCPB sales and marketing manager, requesting to buy 10,000 bags of maize and 10,000 bags of fertilizer on behalf of Jesus, Mary and Joseph Nomadic rehabilitations centre.

He also requested 500 bags of maize on behalf of Isiolo Posho Mill.

Agriculture Assistant Minister Kareke Mbiuki introduced Summer Top Millers Ltd to Prof Misoi for help, saying the company and its directors are well known to him and have been doing business in his constituency and elsewhere.

Signature specimen

Yesterday, Mr Mbiuki was grilled by KACC over the letter, which he dismissed as a forgery and offered to give a specimen of his signatures.

"I have never issued any letter or assisted anybody to get maize from NCPB," said Mbiuki.

KACC has summoned all MPs whose letterheads were used to introduce companies to NCPB.

Higher Education Assistant Minister Kilemi Mwiria intervened on behalf of eight people to be allocated 63,000 bags of maize.

He wrote to Misoi: "The following people have approached me to recommend them to you that they be considered for purchase of white dry maize from any of your depots."

However, Dr Mwiria invited KACC to investigate him over letters he wrote introducing his constituents to the NCPB. He told Parliament yesterday: "I submit myself at the disposal of the KACC for investigations."

Mwiria insisted that he broke no law. "But none of them was allocated maize," he said.

He said it is normal and not always illegal for citizens to seek their MPs’ support to access help, including purchase or allocation of maize from the NCPB. Chepalungu MP Isaac Ruto applied for 1,000 bags of maize, which were to be shared at 500 bags each for Siongiroi and Sigor divisions.

Mt Elgon MP Fred Kapondi requested maize through his companies Karich Enterprises and Kiromoche Millers.

Nominated MP Maison Leshoomo asked for maize "to assist my people because they are really suffering and starving due to lack of food in Samburu West constituency".

Manyatta MP Emilio Kathuri requested 10,000 bags on behalf Pika Millers, saying they would go a long way in assisting the proprietors who are both his constituents as well as his very reliable friends".

Kipkelion MP Magerer Lang’at also wrote to Misoi. Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara sought intervention for allocation of maize to Ms Judy Nkatha Ringera who, he said, is a major supplier of maize to schools in his constituency. And yesterday, Mr Imanyara showed the media letters written by KACC summoning some MPs over notes.

The commission summoned Imanyara to shed light on a note he wrote to the NCPB managing director last September.

Yesterday, Imanyara came out fighting and accused the commission of being used to blackmail MPs over the stalled Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2009.

Out for nothing

The MP explained at a Press conference that he wrote the letter after he was informed that the NCPB refused to sell maize to schools in his constituency. Imanyara declined to appear before the KACC. "I will not appear before the Ringera team because I know he is out for nothing, but blackmail," the MP said.

Mr Kennedy Bosire, the principal forensic investigator who was to interrogate the MPs, declined to comment on the matter when The Standard contacted him.

"This is a matter under investigation and the position of this commission is that we do not talk to the Press," Bosire said. KACC Communications office also declined to comment.

Nyakach MP Pollyns Ochieng is alleged to have requested 20,000 bags each on behalf of Kanyada Maize Millers and Alfina Investments "due to their credibility and reliability".

But speaking in the House yesterday, he denied soliciting maize. He said two documents indicating he wrote letters to NCPB demanding maize are fake and illogical.

One letter bearing his MP letterhead shows he wrote a request on October 6, 2007 when he was not an MP. He claims the signature on a second letter bearing his name and official letterhead is fake.

Assistant Minister and Ndia MP Robinson Githae requested NCPB to allocate Roskin Millers 3,000 bags "to prevent people of Kirinyaga from starving".

Customers’ demand

Nominated MP Amina Abdalla wrote on behalf of her Nasaada Company Ltd. She wrote: "The company is currently unable to meet our customers’ demand as a result of the current national shortage."

"Our company wishes to apply to purchase 20,000 bags of maize to cater for their third quarter demand."

Baringo Central MP Sammy Mwaita intervened on behalf of Huduma Posho Mill for 5,000 bags, saying the mill serves about 10,000 families.

Marakwet West MP Boaz Kaino asked NCPB to allocate three people 20,000 bags.

Emgwen MP Elijah Lagat intervened on behalf of Barnabas Kemboi who he said was well known to him as a "person of integrity, trustworthy and hardworking".

Laisamis MP Joseph Lekuton appealed on behalf of Mr Abdi Mohamud Ali who owns a posho mill in Korr.

PS in Prime Minister’s office, Dr Mohammed Isahakia’s name is handwritten in one letter by a Mr Sakibu Misigo who applied to purchase 50,000 bags.

A note from the desk of PS Agriculture Roman Kiome and to Misoi, dated October 27 last year, states: "The bearer has been sent by the VP. Please assist."