Pre-trial conference of four suspects in Ksh209M fake fertilizer scandal pushed to July

By , K24 Digital
On Mon, 20 May, 2024 13:42 | 3 mins read
Businessman Josiah Kariuki Kimani (first on the right) and two senior directors NCPB Joseph Muna Kimote and John Kiplangat Ngetich in court. PHOTO/ Nancy Gitonga

The pre-trial conference of four suspects in the Ksh 209 million fake fertilizer scandal has been pushed to July.

Anti-corruption Magistrate Celesa Okore has set July 17, 2024, as the next date for the conference as the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) is yet to furnish the accused persons with original witness statements and evidence to be relied upon during trial.

This after the State prosecutor urged the court to give his office a month to enable him to supply all the evidence his office intends to use against three top officials of the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) and businessman Josiah Kariuki since the documentary evidence is very bulky.

"We have a prosecutorial bundle which is so bulky and so far we have not been able to photocopy and supply the same to the defence team. We seek four weeks to comply with the order for the supply of witness statements and documentary evidence before we commence pretrial conference," the prosecutor stated.

The defence lawyers led by Kimani Wachira, John Kiplagat, and Katwa Kigen representing NCPB Managing Director Joseph Muna Kimote, John Kiplangat Ngetich (Corporate Secretary), and John Mbaya Matiri (General Marketing Manager) and Kariuki, the director of two companies at the centre of the fake fertilizer scandal namely Fifty-One Capital Limited and SBL Innovate Manufacturers Limited, told the court that they are yet to supply with all the documentary evidence.

They urged the court to give them two weeks to go through the evidence that the state will supply to them before the pretrial conference can be conducted.

"So far only the third person was served with documents on Friday, May 17, 2024, the rest are yet to receive the statements and documentary evidence," Muna's lawyer Wachira stated.

As a result, the DPP has been directed to serve the suspects with the latter beginning Tuesday, May 21, 2024.

In the case, the four suspects have been charged with selling 139,688 bags of fake fertilizer valued at Ksh209 million to farmers.

They have denied 10 criminal charges of conspiracy to defraud, abuse of office, forgery, presenting false documents and applying standardized marks to fake fertiliser.

Muna, Kiplangat, Mbaya being top officials of NCPB denied that they jointly with others not before the court conspired with intent to defraud Kenyan farmers and sold a total of 139,688 bags of 25kgs each of soil amendment and conditioner valued at Ksh209,532,000 purporting it to be a genuine fertilizer a fact they knew to be false.

Muna was separately charged that being the Managing Director at the NCPB, used his office to improperly confer a benefit to Kariuki by executing an Agency Contract between the NCPB and 51 Capital, African Diatomite Industries Limited to supply 139,688 Bags of 25kgs each of soil amendment and conditioner branded as fertiliSer within NCPB depots across the country.

He committed the offence on March 31, 2022, at Kenya National Cereals and Produce Board Headquarters in Nairobi County.

On his side Kiplangat was alone charged separately that on March 31, 2022, at Kenya NCPB Headquarters in Nairobi City within Nairobi County, being the Corporate Secretary at NCPB used his office to improperly confer a benefit to Kariuki by executing an Agency Contract between the National Cereals and Produce Board and 51 Capital, African Diatomite Industries Limited.

Kariuki was to supply 139,688 Bags of 25kgs each of soil amendment and conditioner branded as fertilizer within NCPB depots across the country.

Mbaya, being the Chairman of the Business Development and Advisory Committee at the NCPB, was accused of using his office to improperly confer a benefit to Kariuki by recommending an Agency agreement between the NCPB and 51 Capital, African Diatomite Industries Limited to supply 139,688 Bags of 25kgs each of soil amendment and conditioner branded as fertilizer within NCPB depots across the country.

They are all out on a bond of Ksh5 Million each.