9 May 2014

Kenya: Onchwari Named Acting Nacada Boss

Nairobi — The National Authority for Campaign against Alcohol and Drug Abuse (NACADA) has appointed Enoch Onchwari as acting Chief Executive Officer following the interdiction of William Okedi on Thursday over illicit brew deaths.

NACADA Chairman John Mututho said Onchwari will take charge at the agency which has been accused of laxity, following the deaths of more than 80 people who consumed toxic brew.

"We want to applaud the decision taken by the government yesterday (Thursday) in respect to the removal of the officers that were not fulfilling their duties including our CEO Mr Okedi."

"In that regard, I introduce our new acting CEO Enoch Onchwari. The government took action primarily because of poor or no response in working to avert this crisis," Mututho explained.

Speaking to journalists, Mututho accused the management under Okedi of failing to heed direction by the board to have all alcoholic drinks in the market tested to ascertain whether they were fit for consumption.

He further announced that they have opened a crisis call centre in their offices where members of the public can report illicit brew dens and manufacturers. The authority also advised the members of the public to contact the centre through toll free number 1192 to report incidents.

"The board in October alerted the management that there is a likelihood of impending deaths or harm because of the presence of bad alcohol in the market."

"The whole thing has taken too long from the time when the board communicated to the management to the time that action was taken and unfortunately the deaths came before any action was taken."

"This is basically why there are changes in NACADA. Had this been done earlier they would have discovered that one of those killer brews, Sacramento, had a permit that expired in February 2013. The process of auditing the brands would have brought this to public notice," Mututho added.

Okedi and the Anti-Counterfeit Chief Executive Officer were on Thursday shown the door as the government cracked the whip on officers believed to have slept on the job leaving Kenyans to perish from consuming the illicit chemicals.

The decision was announced by Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku who said that at least 81 people in five counties across the country had died after consuming the toxic alcohol.

One hundred and seventy five others were receiving treatment in various hospitals.

"The government is deeply concerned at such unnecessary and unwarranted loss of life and takes an extremely dim view of those involved in manufacturing or facilitating the production of this drink of death," he stated.

"We have established that the illicit alcohol consumed in these incidents contained pure methanol, a substance that is usually not an ingredient in the manufacture of alcohol for human consumption. We have further established that other poisonous ingredients have been applied over the years in the preparation of these drinks of death."

Lenku also revealed that police were finalising investigations into the manufacture, sale and distribution of the killer brew, before taking suspects to court to face murder charges.

"The government will bring charges of murder against manufacturers and sellers of the killer brew," he affirmed.

Addressing journalists on Thursday, Lenku said that the government was taking the matter seriously, because the deaths could have been prevented were it not for laxity of government officials.


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