Almost a year after hundreds of Kenyan dairy farmers were defrauded of millions of shillings in a phony dairy cow importation scam, no person has been convicted and no cows have been delivered either.
The scheme was hatched by a one-time Othaya parliamentary seat aspirant Emilio Mwangi who had opened an office in Nairobi’s Twiga Plaza, opposite Hotel Meridian, to lure customers.
We have now learnt that the man was also the face behind a 2007 Circuit Investment pyramid scheme which went down with Sh300 million of investors money.
In the Manilla Farm scam, farmers were to pay, or rather paid a deposit of Sh35,000 to ostensibly get a cow that could produce 45 litres a day.
For any dairy farmer, that was akin to winning a lottery. The Nairobi firm registered as Manilla Farm had put adverts in the newspapers and billboards in major towns promising to turn around Kenya’s dairy industry by getting cows from South Africa that were seven months pregnant. Eventually, a that would cost the farmer Sh280,000 after paying paying a monthly premium of Sh8,000 for three years in addition to a Sh11,270 insurance fee for each cow.
“It was a very good offer,” recalls James Gitau who had ordered three heifers.
Thus, Manilla Farm gave its victims the option of buying the Holstein Fresians on hire purchase after placing a deposit of Sh35,000.
“I even reported the matter to police, I wrote a statement, then was referred back to the office, which has been taking me round in circles,” Mr Nduati Githere, who says he had paid a deposit of Sh105,000 for three cows and an insurance fee for two at Sh22,540 told Kenya’s Daily Nation.
Central Police Criminal Investigations chief Zachary Nangulu said: “The matter has been reported to us. We are on top of things and we are tracking the farm’s bosses. We will make arrests soon.”
Manilla has since closed their offices and when Top Farmer visited the premises opposite Nairobi’s Meridian Hotel, we found the doors locked.
The advert promised farmers a professionally built cow shed, pen and storage and fitting of electricity and water systems. It also promised a biogas installation and six months feed supply.
We found 60-year old Julia Mwihaki who had come to check what happened to her two heifers but there was no one to attend to her.
Mr David Mwaniki from Kajiado said he paid a deposit of Sh121,000 for three cows and Sh35,000 for insurance, besides spending a further Sh200,000 on cow sheds made to Manilla Farm’s specifications.
Mr Lucas Oluoch from Siaya County said he had lost Sh92,500 while Ms Sarah Karimi from Karen said he had paid the farm Sh46,200 and spent Sh200,000 on construction.
The question that farmers are asking: Why is Emilio Kibui Mwangi who contested the Othaya seat on Farmers Party ticket in the last general election not behind bars?.