Edo State Concerned Farmers Association (ESCFA) on Monday asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and anti-graft agencies to probe alleged mismanagement of N144 billion loan for agricpreneur project in the state.
The farmers protested in Abuja, bearing placards asking government officials to answer how the loan was managed.
Addressing newsmen after peaceful protest at Unity Fountain in Abuja, Deputy Coordinator of the farmers, Comrade Abdulsallam Muhammad Oshiobugie, said the protest had to take place in Abuja after unsuccessful attempts to meet with the State Government on the matter.
The farmers also accused the State Government of defaulting in payment for their farm produce since the harvest seasons of 2017 and 2019.
According to them, the CBN since 2017, advanced over ₦75 billion agricultural loans to Edo State Government for further disbursement to farmers, which didn’t happen.
“In 2017 we participated in the Agripreneur programme in Sobe, Owan West Local Government Area of Edo State where we planted and harvested maize. However, since the harvest three years ago, till date we are yet to receive proceeds from the sale of our maize by Edo State Government.
“In 2019 we also participated in the Agripreneur programme in Agenegbode, Etsako East Local Government Area, where we planted and harvested rice. Since the harvest in October 2019, Edo State Government and Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) took our rice for processing and sale in Abakaliki. However, we have waited in vain for 9 months, and till date, the proceeds from the sale of our rice have not been paid back to us,” Oshiobugie alleged.
The group further alleged another ₦69billion CBN loan invested into Edo State oil palm orogramme has been hijacked.
“We want to use this medium to call on the CBN to take urgent steps to ensure that Edo State Government and NIRSAL pay Edo State Farmers, proceeds from the sale of their crops between 2017 and 2019.
“Finally, we are calling on the CBN and World Bank as well as other financial institutions to stop further disbursement of loans to Edo State Government and instead carry out a thorough investigation into how previous loans between 2016 and 2020 were spent and those responsible for embezzling these Loans should be prosecuted and made to refund the stolen funds.
“We plead with the Governor of CBN and the Country Director of World Bank, not to cover up these fraudulent activities in Edo State but to immediately commence a thorough forensic investigation in partnership with the EFCC, ICPC and Civil Society Groups in Edo State and those found to have misappropriated these funds should be prosecuted.”
(Source: The Nation)