NCPB Officials Deny Conspiring to Defraud Farmers in Ksh209m Fertilizer Scandal

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From Left to Right: John Mbaya Matiri, John Kiplangat Ngetich, and Joseph Muna Kimote appear before Magistrate Celesa Okore at Milimani Law Court on May 2, 2024, in the fake fertilizer scandal case.

On Thursday, an Anti-corruption court charged three top officials of the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) over the fake fertilizer scandal.

NCPB Managing Director Joseph Muna Kimote, Corporate Secretary John Kiplangat Ngetich, and General Marketing Manager John Mbaya Matiri pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiring to defraud farmers. They allegedly sold 139,688 bags of 25 kg fertilizer, valued at over Kes. 209 million, purporting it to be genuine, a fact the prosecution alleges they knew to be false.

However, Josiah Kariuki, the director of Fifty One Capital Limited and SBL Innovate Manufacturers Limited, failed to appear in court.

Josiah was tasked with supplying the 139,688 bags of soil amendment and conditioner branded as fertilizer to NCPB depots across the country.

Muna, as the Managing Director, is accused of improperly conferring a benefit to Kariuki by executing an Agency Contract between NCPB and 51 Capital, African Diatomite Industries Limited, on March 31, 2022, at the NCPB Headquarters in Nairobi.

Kiplangat, the Corporate Secretary, faces a separate charge of improperly conferring a benefit to Kariuki by executing a similar Agency Contract on the same date and location.

Mbaya, the Chairman of the Business Development and Advisory Committee, is accused of using his office to improperly confer a benefit to Kariuki by recommending the Agency agreement between NCPB and 51 Capital, African Diatomite Industries Limited.

The trio faces a common charge of abuse of office.

“Law Abiding Citizens”

Through lawyers Katwa Kigen, Danstan Omari, and others, the three requested lenient bond terms from the court, asserting their status as law-abiding citizens.

However, the prosecution opposed the release of the accused, arguing that they pose a flight risk and may interfere with witnesses. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) stated that investigations are still ongoing.

“There’s a likelihood of interference with the witnesses, suppressing of evidence or tampering of evidence, particularly 2,3 and 4 persons who are their subordinates in the office,” reads the affidavit.

“The matter is of high public interest as it has affected farmers and food security in the country,” the prosecution added.

Additionally, it was revealed that Josiah Kariuki Kimani, the first accused, has evaded arrest and has switched off his phones.

The prosecution requested the court to issue a warrant for his arrest along with his two companies, which failed to appear in court. The DPP expressed distrust in Josiah’s conduct.

The three were granted release on a cash bail of Kes.1 million or a bond of Kes.3 million each.

Trial magistrate Celesa Okore also directed the first accused Josiah Kariuki Kimani to appear for plea taking on May 6, with a warning that failure to do so will result in a warrant for his arrest.

The case is scheduled for mention on May 20 for pretrial.

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