Kiunjuri grilled over Sh1.8b maize cash

Former Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri
Recently Sacked CS for Agriculture Mwangi Kiunjuri before a parliamentary committee.

Former Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri was yesterday grilled by the anti-graft agency in an ongoing investigations into alleged illegal payment of Sh1.8 billion for maize supply.

The money was withdrawn from the accounts of the Strategic Food Reserve Trust Fund at Central Bank last year and paid by the Agriculture ministry to a private company as pending bill for the maize bought during the 2016/2017 financial year. The procurement was done during the tenure of William Bett as Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, but the payment was made while Kiunjuri was in charge at Kilimo House.

EACC opened investigations into the matter following claims officials at the ministry authorised the payment without prior approval of the oversight board and contrary to the Public Finance Management Regulations, 2015.

Kiunjuri was summoned to the EACC offices where he spent the better part of the afternoon responding to the questions from detectives on the payment to Commodity House Limited on June 28, 2019 for maize supply to National Cereals Produce Board (NCPB).

Yesterday, former Agriculture Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe was also questioned over the matter. EACC also plans to question Bett on January 31. Bett had served at Kilimo House between 2015 and 2018.

Anti-graft agency CEO Twalib Mbarak has written to Foreign Affairs cabinet secretary Raychelle Omamo asking her to facilitate Bett who is Kenya’s ambassador to India to appear for interviewing at Integrity Centre.

Equally, officials at the Strategic Food Reserve were on December 2, 2019 grilled at the commission. They include Abas Mohamed, Susan Mukiri, Gerald Masila, Vincent Matioli, Josiah Orina, Johnson Irungu, Col Charles Owino, Noah Wekesa, Lucas Chepkitony, Charles Sunkuli and Julius Muya.

Principal Secretary (PS) Prof Hamadi Boga, officials at Treasury’s Integrated Financial Management Information System who authourised the payment and those from the Central Bank have also been questioned, officials aware of the investigation said.