President William Ruto

In connection with the disappearance of 20,000 bags of adulterated sugar that were banned and confiscated by the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS), 27 government employees affiliated with different state institutions have been placed on administrative leave.


The Kenya Bureau of Standards, Kenya Revenue Authority, National Police Service, and Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) are among the organisations whose representatives were sent home to clear the way for probes.


Head of Public Service Felix Koskei disclosed the dismissal of the aforementioned public officials in a statement on Wednesday night. He added that the President had been informed of the situation, which he described as the "irregular and criminal distribution of protested sugar that was supposed to be used for conversion into industrial ethanol."


Since then, it has been shown that the shipment was improperly redirected and discharged.


"Additionally, the terms of the distiller's open and competitive recruitment were broken, and the necessary taxes were not paid," according to a portion of the statement.


Merako Investments Limited shipped 20,000 bags of sugar from Harare, Zimbabwe, each weighing 50 kg; however, KEBS rejected the shipment due to the absence of an expiration date restriction.


After the sugar was rejected by KEBS, it was transported to a go-down in Makongeni, Thika, where it is said that it had been kept for the previous four years.


The Kenyan Standards and Authorised Specifications Regulations provide that "no goods that do not conform to the Kenyan standards or approved specifications shall be permitted into the country and should be re-shipped, returned, or destroyed at the expense of the importer."


In accordance with the instructions provided by KEBS, "no goods that do not conform to the Kenyan standards or approved specifications shall be permitted into the country and should be re-shipped, returned, or destroyed at the expense of the importer."


Nevertheless, in a letter to the KRA Commissioner General in December of last year, KEBS Managing Director Benard Njiraini stated: "KEBS has received a request from Assets and Cargo Ltd. for conversion of the subject condemned brown sugar into ethanol through distillation."


Industrialization CS Moses Kuria and Head of Public Service Felix Koskei received copies of the KEBS letter.


The Standard Act mandates that non-compliant items be transported, returned, or destroyed at the owner's expense, Njiraini informed the Commissioner General.


In the letter, KEBSs went on to say that it had studied the procedure for disposing of the condemned consignment and had given its preliminary approval to the ecologically friendly annihilation of the subject by conversion to ethanol through distillation by authorised firms.


The KRA boss got the letter from the KEBS MD five days later.


KRA had not taken any action up until April of this year, but on April 29th, Faith Kiara, writing on behalf of the Commissioner, Intelligence Strategic Operations Investigations and Enforcement, sent a letter requesting the release of the condemned sugar in Makongeni, Thika, subject to the payment of any outstanding taxes within 30 days of the release.


In order to assist the multi-agency team officers and the DCI in forcibly opening the godown and determining if the shipment was still there, KEBS sent one of its inspection officers to the Thika Vinepack godown on May 4 after the two government agencies processed the release of the consignment.


Despite having KRA seals on the locks of the godown, the Makongeni godown was empty when the crew arrived there, raising the possibility that the sugar had already reached the market and was available for purchase.


The DCI has now started looking for the consignment in addition to pursuing KEBS executives over the location of the condemned sugar that KEBS intended to re-ship or destroy.


The 27 officials suspended officials include:


Kenya Bureau of Standards


1.       Lt. Col (Rtd) Bernard Njiraini - the Managing Director.


2.       Dr. Geoffrey Muriira, Director of Quality Assurance and Inspection


3.       Hilda Keror, Manager Inspection, Mombasa Port Office


4.       Liston Lagat, Assistant Manager, ICDN Nairobi


5.       Rono Birgen Chief Manager, ICDN Nairobi


6.       Stephen Owuor, Principal Officer


7.       Peter Olima Joseph — Inspector, Mombasa


Kenya Revenue Authority


1.       Joseph Kaguru


2.       Mwanja Masinde


3.       Stephen Muiruri


4.       Moses Okoth


5.       Doris Mutembei


6.       Chacha Hondo


7.       Carol Nyagechi


8.       Derick Kago


National Police Service


1.       George Mithamo


2.       Joel Kirui


Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI)


1.       Bernard Ngumbi


2.       Raphael Mwaka


Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA)


1.       Oscar Kai


2.       Patrick Magut


Others are Joseph Maita Mweni (Port Health), Isacko Bonai (NEMA), Stephen Cheruiyot (Anti-Counterfeit Agency), Daniel Ngugi (KEPHIS), Willy Koskei (EACC), and Edwin Ruto (KPA).

 

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