William Ruto's Woes

Although he is making a mighty effort to portray an image of one unflapped by the avalanche of accusations roaring down his way, Agriculture minister William Ruto is deep inside feeling the steady tightening of the noose around his neck.

And with only two or three MPs showing signs they are willing to stick their necks out for him to the bitter end, it is increasingly becoming apparent that it is just a matter of time before the man finds himself on the drying line.

This because unlike the abstract affair of the Waki Report that has left Ruto running scared albeit with a room to wriggle out, the maize scam matter has what those levelling the charges against him say is tangible and damning evidence enough to make his noon look like night.

The onslaught on Ruto over the maize scandal intensified last week, causing the minister quite some low spirits and depression. Sources close to the minister have since intimated that he is now blaming his woes on political differences within ODM.

They say on Wednesday when Ikolomani MP Bonnie Khalwalwe now commonly referred to the "people's bull" due to his fight for the poor against corruption by the mighty, Ruto called a senior employee at his Amaco Insurance based at Trans National house and is said to have directed him to find out who had leaked e-mail communication between Al Champdany Industries Limited and Silas Simatwo, a senior manager at the insurance company.

The minister is also said to have called Joshua Kulei a former powerful member in the Kanu regime last week and discussed the maize scandal. Controversy surrounds who owns Milling Corporation, a company that was also allocated maize by the National Cereals and produce Board (NCPB). The firm is based in Nakuru.

It has further emerged that one of the beneficiaries of the maize scam has bought a Kenya Airways hostess Diana Chebet a sports Range Rover. Chebet who stays in Lavington was in the news recently on matters relating to Nigerian drug dealer Ken Ombino who was deported from the country.

Back to Kulei, it is imperative to note he was one of ODM financiers who channeled his money through Ruto and even backed Samuel Mwaita to defeat Gideon Moi in Baringo Central Parliamentary Seat.

That Ruto is worried is well explained when come last week he called a press conference to defend himself.

In a statement released to the press the minister claimed all maize released by the NCPB was paid for and not a single bag was sold without the authority of the board of trustees.

Ruto further claimed he was neither a director nor employee of Amaco and the company did not inquire, tender for supply any gunny bags to NCPB.

Amaco Insurance Company was formed when Ruto enjoyed State House links during the reign of former President Daniel Arap Moi. It had on its list of clients big time government institutions including the military.

Shareholders of the company include Ruto and Joubert and Borman Limited a company in which Ruto and his wife own majority of shares. Another shareholder is Silas Kibet Simatwo, a well known wheeler dealer.

The said Simatwo the man in-charge of running Amaco was out to get Kickbacks from the gunny bags deals at the Minister's behest. The amount involved in the deal ran into millions.

Weekly Citizen has obtained a copy of an e-mail from AI champdany Industries Limited who claim to be a trading house recognized by the government of India. It is addressed to M/s African Merchant Assurance Company Ltd Kenya. Attention to Silas Simatwo the Managing director.

It states, "Ref our telcom, as desired by you we now offer for 90 kg bags instead of 50kg bags requested earlier as under. We offer 2 million jute bags 112 CMs x 67.5 HD100 gms/bag plus/ minus 50gms 76x28 threads per DM. 3 blue stripes heracle sewn SOOpcs/ bale at USD 0.97 per bag...... Our offer is valid up to 31/7/2008 for your reply.

It is signed by a one N Pujara and copied to the High Commissioner of India to Kenya.

Weekly Citizen has established that it is true the said e-mail was received by the Indian High Commissioner. It is dated 26.7.2008.

Come July 30, 2008, Simatwo wrote to Pujara as follows, "Dear Mr. Pujara, our conversation refers. I am in receipt of your fax which contains your company price guide. Other Indian companies have given their prices to Cereals Board.

One of the most competitive of them is already in Nairobi for negotiations. They already have an agent in Nairobi who has approached me to front for them. I would however prefer to use my vantage position to work directly with you which is why I would prefer you urgently come over to Nairobi. This morning I had a meeting with both the minister and the Cereals Board MD. We resolved that I ask you to urgently come over so that we finalize the deal. Kindly expedite."

Questions are being asked as to why Simatwo popularly known as SS who is not a civil servant was brokering the deal.

Two, why Ruto and NCPB Managing Director Prof. Gideon Misoi held a meeting with SS lobbying AI Champdany Industries to supply gunny bags.

Documents in our possession show 10 companies were interested is the supply of gunny bags to NCPB. They were Budge Badge JT, AI Champadany Industries, Anglo India Jute Mills Ltd, Naffar Chandra Jute Mills, Ludlow Ltd, Giant Industries and Hawrah Mills Company Ltd.
To make a kill from the tender, Ruto and Prof Misoi manipulated the board not to offer the tender to the firm with the best price.

It is imperative to note Hawrah Mills Company had offered the price of US dollars 0.965 which was equivalent to Sh62.725 then. AI Champadany quoted US dollars 0.97 that is Sh63.05. The same was quoted by Murridhar Ratanial Exporters.

It is emerging, brokers with Ruto's blessings made sure companies that had oiled palms were awarded each to supply 1 million bags.

They were Howrah Mills, Murlidhar Ratanial and of course AI Champdany industries which is said to have parted with a hefty amount.

Come to maize allocations the puzzle of the missing 1 million bags is still lingering. It is worth noting, as per June last year, the strategic reserves had 2.6 million bags but Ruto is only able to account for 1.6 bags.

Documents we have raise queries on the manner in which companies were allocated maize. For example B2K Ltd based on Cannon Towers II 5floor Bandari Wing Mombasa in a letter to NCPB sales manager dated 15"1 September 2008 states. 'This is to confirm that we will pay for the 7500 bags allocated to Agrillion Solutions. We therefore request the sales order be written to Buzeki Enterprises Ltd. The cheque reference number is 102833.

It is emerging that companies, that were allocated but unable to pay transferred to others.
Ruto's personal Assistant Simeto Oscar on 5th November 2008 wrote to Prof. Gideon Misoi on Ruto's official Letterhead stating: "Ref: purchase of 1000 bags of maize by Robinson Mbugua Nene. The letter reads, "The Hon. Minister for Agriculture requests you to assist Robinson
Mbugua Nene purchase 1000 bags of maize from the National Cereals and produce Board."

Afritrack Support is one of the briefcase companies that were allocated maize. Controversy surrounds the manner in which Wasso Investment Ltd with box number 608-00517 was awarded 20,000 bags of maize.

A letter signed by Rehema G. Galgalo reads, "We wish to buy 20,000 bags of maize from
your organization. We run a milling firm in Isiolo district and due to persistent drought there
is acute food shortage in the region."

Instead of the 20,000 bags asked for, only 10,000 bags were approved. Uhuru Kenyatta is said to have pushed for the allocation.

Kapsoit Millers of Box 598 Kericho was allocated 10,000 bags as per request of one Robert Kipyegon.

Shabab Millers who claim to be based in Northern Kenya with branches in the entire region with headquarters on Uganda House, Kenyatta Avenue Nairobi requested 50,000 bags. A one Ahmed Elyass is the Managing Director.

Agrilion Solutions with no physical address giving address number 48994 Nairobi through a letter signed by Willy Bett was allocated 10,000 bags. Part of the letter Bett wrote to NCPB reads, "We subcontract the milling services to companies which we have longstanding relationship."

On 1 September 2008, Vicky Chebet Kones using her links in the political world request to purchase 5,000 bags of white maize.

Her controversial letter states, "I would like to purchase 5,000 bags of maize to be distributed to needy Kenyans in Baringo and West Pokot. If my request is accepted, I will collect the maize from the most convenient depot. Kindly assist me in any way possible."

Five thousands bags were approved with the MD NCPD approval. She sold the maize instead of distributing to needy Kenyans.

Another fake company that benefited is Kunouz (K) Ltd. Abrahim Limo the Managing Director wrote on 24th July 2008 requesting to shift point of collection from Bungoma to Kitale depot after he failed to get a buyer miller.

The letter reads," Further to your letter of allocation Ref. NCPD/SALES/19/V/503 of 8000 bags Ex-Bungoma silos. We wish to kindly request for change of allocation point to Kitale depot.

Sir, we are being compelled by our logistical reasons to request for the same. We are ready, willing and able to pay for the entire quantity at Kitale prices and if possible be 50 Kg bags instead of 90Kgs."

The request was approved. But perhaps the most controversial was the request by Western Regional Millers Company Limited. Through a one PMM Musindi the chairman, they requested for the purchase of 50,000 bags of maize.

On 28th August 2008, Saino Commercial Agencies through the director James C. Koske was allocated 20,000 bags. Koske is said to have sold the maize to Southern Sudan. Koske dealings were facilitated in Kericho.

Saino Commercial whose address is Nairobi but has no physical location claims in the request letter to be a reputable company dealing with dry foodstuffs.

A note on the request letter says "Hon. Ruto called and was approved.

Other millers caught in the saga are Mamlaka Millers Ltd based in Athi River, Summer Millers of Ruiru, Jakisa Distributors, Mrs Esther Kigo of Box 6164 Nairobi, Kilalani Millers, Nangat Trading Company of Saidi Ahmed, Ruiru Company associated with Praful Shah, one Nichorus K. Mwenda of Mem Millers and Chemco feeds (K) Ltd of Nairobi Kariobangi North with request letter signed by Gakere Mwangi the general manager.

Uasin Gishu politician Jackson Kibor through Mafuta Farm was awarded 100,000 bags raising eyebrows. It is suspected that Kibor entered into maize business deal with Ruto on 50-50 share basis. He sold on behalf of the minister to avoid conflict of interest. Oscar Sudi a close ally of Ruto is also caught in the scam.

It has also emerged that aware the issue was to boil in parliament, Ruto working together with Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba and Cherengany MP Joshua Kutuny worked on a list that Namwamba was to table in the house.

The idea was to shift the attention of Kenyans from Khalwale's list by introducing the First Lady Lucy Kibaki to the maize saga. But the acheme exploded in their faces.The move did not work well as Namwamba who had been hosted in Ruto Eldoret North Constituency found himself in trouble.

By late last week Ruto and his allies, Namwamba and Kutuny were blaming top ODM luminaries for using the maize scam to bring down Ruto due to his rising political star.

They are asking why Prime Minister Raila Odinga and his deputy Musalia Mudavadi have not come out in open to defend Ruto either in parliament or in public function.

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