Three grilled as EACC revives probe into Sh100 m scheme fund

Leaders of the defunct West Kano Irrigation Scheme Revolving Fund Samwel Otieno (left) George Okaka and treasurer Lawrence Odhiambo (right) leave the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission offices in Kisumu on January 28, 2019. [Denish Ochieng/Standard]
Three former officials of the defunct West Kano Farmers Revolving Fund has been question as the anti-corruption agency revived investigations into alleged loss of Sh100 million at the irrigation scheme.

Samwel Otieno (secretary), George Okaka (chairman) and Lawrence Odhiambo (treasurer) spent the better part of Monday afternoon at the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission regional offices in Kisumu, where they were questioned over the loss.

The EACC regional manager, Ignatius Wekesa, led the questioning.

Farmers have said loss of the funds has hampered activities at the 23,000-acre West Kano Irrigation Scheme in the Kano plains.

In their appeal to EACC, the farmers claimed that the trio took office in 2010, when the national government invested Sh68 million in the scheme to serve as a revolving fund to boost farmers' operations.

Another Sh18 million came through the Economic Stimulus Programme. The rest of the funds were farmers' savings.

But five years later, in 2015, the officials allegedly discontinued operations at the fund and did not explain to the farmers why they did so.

The farmers went to the EACC in 2016 and asked the agency to audit how the funds were used.

A private auditor the farmers and other stakeholders contracted allegedly disappeared with the audit report.

The farmers’ hopes were revived when EACC summoned the former officials. The commission said it had summoned the three so the case could be settled.

Sources said the three were put to task to explain their roles in the loss of the funds.

"They were asked several questions regarding the management of the fund at the scheme. They were also asked to provide audit reports and any other documents that could help trace the funds or face charges.”

The source said the three claimed the money reportedly lost had actually been taken by farmers in the form of loans, which they failed to repay, leading to the collapse of the scheme. However, they had no document to support their claims.

“They were given one month to provide documents to account for the money. This will inform the next cause of action,” the source said.

Mr Wekesa declined to comment on the matter, saying it was too early to do so considering the nature of the case.

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West Kano Farmers Revolving Fundirrigation schemeSamwel OtienoEACC