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EACC To Charge Officials In Sh54M Kano Rice Scheme Scandal

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The anti-graft agency is closing in on senior officers at the troubled West Kano Rice Irrigation Scheme over alleged embezzlement of Sh54.3 million meant for farmers.

Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) boss Twalib Mbarak said the agency has completed investigations into the matter. Appearing before the Senate Agriculture committee chaired by Kirinyaga Senator James Murango, Mr Mbarak said they will press charges against officials of the scheme found culpable of pilfering the funds.

“The field investigations are complete and are now under review. We are in the process of reviewing to inform appropriate recommendations,” said the EACC boss.

The development follows a petition claiming massive embezzlement of the farmers’ money by the management of the scheme.

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Petitioner Patrick Ochieng, appearing before the committee last month, accused the EACC Western region officers of inaction despite reporting misappropriation of funds released to the scheme by the government. He alleged that the scheme received millions of shillings from the government between 2007 and 2021 for rehabilitation, economic stimulus package, farmers’ savings and rice sales.

The petitioner claimed that between 2009 and 2015, the government released Sh86 million, with the farmers’ savings totalling Sh18 million.

The expenditure of Sh54.3 million, Mr Ochieng said, cannot be accounted for by the management under the West Kano Irrigation Farmers Revolving Fund. He said that the revolving fund was an umbrella body for 59 self-help groups and was meant to advance cash to farmers for transplanting, weeding and harvesting.

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The revelations prompted the Senate committee to launch investigations into the alleged graft at the scheme.

Mr Ochieng had pleaded with the committee to recommend a forensic audit of all the officials involved in the management of the scheme between 2007 and 2021 as well as to help set up a team of experts to identify gaps in the current scheme management system.

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EACC stated that the scheme received a grant of Sh54.3 million under the Economic Stimulus Programme in the financial year ended June 30, 2010 to be advanced to farmers to improve rice production.

Mr Mbarak defended the commission saying that they are understaffed and lack adequate resources to complete investigations in time. He said they had received more than 9,000 cases on corruption including bribery and other petty offences, some very negligible, yet they are understaffed and operating with very little resources.

“We have visited other jurisdictions and the best practice is that they investigate only serious cases. Here, we get more than 9,000 cases,” said Mr Mbarak.


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