Agriculture PS Richard Lesiyampe arrested over maize scandal at NCPB

Agriculture PS Richard Lesiyampe. He was arrested on Thursday morning over the maize scandal at NCPB./ PHOTO COURTESY

Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Principal Secretary Richard Lesiyampe has been arrested over the sh.1.9 billion maize scandal at National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB).

Lesiyampe and NCPB Finance General Manager, Cornel Kiprotich Ng’elechey, were arrested on Thursday morning by EACC detectives following a directive by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Noordin Haji.

Through their twitter page, EACC confirmed the arrest of the two saying they were still seeking 15 other officials and prominent traders.

EACC investigations on allegations of irregular purchase of maize at NCPB revealed that the board spent more than sh.11 billion to purchase 2 million bags of maize in the 2017/18 period, which exceeded a sh.6 billion budget by Strategic Food Reserve Oversight Board (SFROB).

The investigations also show that PS Lesiyampe authorized the expenditure and failed to ensure that the purchase was done in accordance with the law.

The investigations also showed that NCPB officials, Agricultural officers, Chiefs and Assistant Chiefs colluded with traders to facilitate the fraudulent payments.

Following the investigations, DPP Noordin Haji ordered the immediate arrest and prosecution of PS Richard Lesiyampe; Former NCPB Managing Director, Newton Terer; NCPB GM Finance, Cornel Kiprotich; NCPB Accounts Clerk, Caroline Kipchoge Cherono; NCPB Eldoret Silo Manager, Renson Kibet Korir; Records Officer NCPB Eldoret Silo, Eric Kipketer and County Director of Agriculture, Joseph Kipruto Cheboi.

The suspects will be facing six charges, these are; willful failure to comply with law relating to management of public property, unauthorized spending of public funds, Abuse of office, Conspiracy to defraud, Neglect of official duty and fraudulent acquisition of public funds.

“The EACC investigations so far covered the Eldoret Depot where the largest payments were made. The investigations are ongoing to cover the other NCPB depots,” read the statement from the DPP.