The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested leaders of Gummi Local Government chapter of Rice Farmers’ Association of Nigeria, in Zamfara State over alleged diversion N5.4 million worth of fertilizers.
The arrested suspects include Ibrahim Rijiya, the chairman of the association; Aminu Musa, the council storekeeper; and one Abdullahi Bashir.
Tony Orilade, the acting spokesman for the commission said this in a statement released on Wednesday.
The commission arrested the suspects following a petition by some rice farmers.
They were said to have criminally diverted three trailers of 1,800 bags of fertilizers, and a truck-load of herbicides meant for rice farmers in Gummi.
Rijiya, who is also the District Head of Rijiya Gummi, Gummi LGA, was said to have sold each bag for N3,000 including other farm materials, according to a Punch Newspaper report.
Representatives of seven different groups of rice farmers had alleged that sometimes in July 2018, the federal government approved and disbursed 12 trucks of fertilizers and herbicides on loan to 83 cooperative societies in Gummi, adding that no member of the association received the items as approved by the government.
Also, efforts by the Gummi chapter of RIFAN to get the items back reportedly proved abortive.
EFCC investigations, however, revealed that Rijiya conspired with Musa to divert and sell the fertilizers and herbicides to Bashir for N17.1million which they shared among themselves.
“The suspects confessed to their roles in the crime while the three trailers of the fertilizers have been recovered from them. Efforts are in top gear to recover the diverted herbicides. They will soon be arraigned in court,” the statement said.
Insecurity: Yobe Fruit Sellers Lament Market Closure
Fruit farmers and sellers in Mamudo town of Yobe say they are incurring heavy losses as a result of poor patronage caused by closure of some markets in the state and neighbouring Borno.
Mamudo town is known for its large scale production of fruits, particularly mangoes, cashew and guava, in addition to vegetables.
Some of them, who narrated their ordeal to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Mamudo, said the last time they experienced such misfortune in business, was over 10 years ago, caused by natural disaster.
They said the major markets for their fruits were in Babangida, Gaidam, Gashua and Mainok towns, all of which no longer observe the weekly market days, for security reasons.
Babangida Alagos, who sells mangoes, said the situation was so bad that from last month to date, there were times they had to drop baskets of mangoes by the highway, almost begging motorists to stop and fetch whatever quantity they needed, free.
“This was particularly during the period of Ramadan fast; we were battling with baskets of mangoes and there were no buyers; after two to three days, the fruits get rotten and are thrown away.
“The losses were so painful that we felt giving the fruits to people for free will at least earn us some reward from God; at least we had the contentment that somebody consumed them, and they did not get wasted.
“That was how the idea of keeping the fruits on the major highways came up and the beneficiaries reciprocated with prayers for us to overcome the situation,” he narrated.
Alagos estimated that for the past two months, fruit farmers and sellers in the town lost no fewer than 2,000 baskets of fruits, particularly mangoes, each basket costing N2,500.
Another seller, Habu Maikano, narrated that at a particular point in time, supply had overwhelmed demand to the extent that they never had to climb trees in search of ripe mangoes to sell.
“Substantial quantity of the fruits got ripe while the previous ones had not been sold, such that all we did was just picking basket-full of mangoes that had fallen under the trees.
“Unlike previous years when youth that went to our orchards to pick mangoes were seen as ‘thieves’, there was no such ‘thief’ this year as we were begging people to pick and eat, so as to avoid waste,” he stated.
Also recounting his ordeal, Mohammed Sanusi said the frustration was such that he had decided to seek for an alternative means of livelihood, even if the situation improves.
“I know that marketing perishable food items can be risky, but with what happened this year, it is like I had under-estimated the magnitude of the risk.
“I have now resolved to change trade; I may deal in the new trade side-by- side with selling of fruits, or abandon the latter for good,” he remarked.
Other farmers and traders, namely Adamu Usman, Halliru Mohammed and Bello Mallum, narrated similar experiences, adding that one of the many solutions to their ordeal was to devise a reliable preservation technique.
They said the other solution was for the government or wealthy individuals and organizations, to establish fruit processing industries that would create market for their produce.
“When there is glut, we can have the fruits processed, preserved and sold out to people in times of scarcity; by doing so, employment opportunities are created, wastages averted, and fruit juices are made available and affordable,“ said Usman.
They therefore appealed to Yobe government and the business community, to invest in processing the abundant fruits wasting in the town almost every season.
Bauchi Gov-elect To Stand Trial Over False Declaration Of Assets
Bala Mohammed, Governor-elect of Bauchi State, is set to face a fresh six-count charge bordering on alleged failure to declare his assets and false information.
Bala will be arraigned on Monday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Mohammed, who contested on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was declared the winner of the 2019 Bauchi State governorship election after defeating Mohammed Abubakar, the incumbent Governor of the state, of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
According to information sent by the court registrar to Chile Okoroma, the EFCC Director of Legal Services and Prosecution, Mohammed will be arraigned in Court 26 at the FCT High Court, Maitama in Abuja.
The charge read in part: “That you Bala A. Mohammed on or about October 24, 2016 at the head office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in Abuja within the judicial division of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory made a false statement to the detective, Ishaya Dauda, investigating officer with the Economic Governance Section of the EFCC, Abuja to wit: that you acquired house situated at No. 2599 and 2600, Cadastal Zone AO4 Asokoro District Abuja through a mortgage facility from Aso Savings & Loan Bank Plc and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 09 (2) (a) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004 and punishable under Section 39(2)(b) of the same Act.”
In a recent interview with Punch newspaper, Mohammed had said his trial by the EFCC was “completely politically-motivated”.
He continued: “But I believe in justice and that was why I went to the court of justice. Definitely! I have been under probe by the EFCC and because I believe in accountability and was influential in the government of President Goodluck Jonathan, I chose not to run away.
“I will stand and answer all questions. I have passed the first battle by winning my case against the Federal Government on human rights, for arbitrarily imprisoning me and then calling me names. Of course, N5m has been awarded in my favour and the next one is the other spurious charges against me. I believe in justice and equity.
“And if the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, has discovered some documents which shows that over 2,000 ghost workers have been inputted into the salaries and arrears of Bauchi State in the last four years and over N400bn has come to Bauchi and we cannot see anything that has been done for N5bn, if I don’t do it (probe him), then I have abdicated my responsibility.”
We Produce 90% Of The Rice We Eat, Says Nigeria’s Minister Of Agriculture
Audu Ogbeh, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, says 90 per cent of the rice consumed in the country is produced locally.
Ogbeh revealed this on Tuesday at the 2019 Annual Research Review and Planning meeting, which held at the Balarabe Tanimu Conference Hall at the Institute for Agricultural Research (IAR), Zaria, Kaduna State.
Ogbeh, who was represented by Karima Babangida, the Director of Extension Services in the ministry, said this was achievable to local producers because of the backing they received from present administration, noting that the country is shifting “to eating what we grow, rather than eating imported food’’.
He said: “One very good example that we see today is the home-grown Nigerian rice. Hitherto, Nigeria has been a major and largest importer of rice from Thailand and this implies largest importer in the world.
“But today, we have been able to achieve a paradigm shift in the right direction and we are now producing 90 per cent of the rice we eat in the country, I think we should appreciate our farmers here.
“Nigeria does not only have the capacity to feed itself, it also becomes a major actor in agricultural exports to other African countries, Europe and American countries, including the Far East, especially China.”
He said other sectors of the agriculture economy are witnessing the same trend and that with joint efforts of stakeholders, the country can achieve balance of trade in food items.
He pointed out the need for all stakeholders to collaborate to continue to develop the great potential in the country.
Ibrahim Garba, Chairman of the occasion and the Vice-Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, noted that the future of the Nigerian economy lay on the shoulders of agriculture.
Garba, who was represented by Prof. Ezra Bako-Amans, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academics), said: “Nigeria has all it takes to lead the African trans-border trade in food and fibre. It can cut its global share too in a number of crops it has comparative advantages in their production.
“The world’s cotton economy for instance, is about 1 trillion dollars. Needless to say, that cotton used to be one of the most important fibre crops in Nigeria, but down the line, we lost relevance on this crop.
“With the current renewed focus on agriculture, this glory can be reclaimed and Nigeria can have her fair share in the global cotton industry.”
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