By Moses Obajemu
- As police step in
- Moment of truth beckons
The moment of truth may have come for the members of the public to be availed of the real reasons why the final consummation of the tripartite agreement between the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Nigeria Incentives-Based Risk Sharing System for Agriculture (NIRSAL), and a maize farmers’ cooperative society based in the South west, Hope Concept Investment Cooperatives and Credit Union, has not materialised more than one year after the parties agreed terms under the Anchor Borrowers Programme.
After successful negotiations between the CBN and the farmers, the apex bank credited NIRSAL’s account with the sum of N246,523,120, for onward transfer to the farmers, with the transaction generating a credit advice note dated 18th and 19th July with the reference no MDC1820000099/BNK , and has as its narration “BNG RELEASE OF FUNDS FOR 1ST TRANCHE DISB IFO HOPE CONCEPT MAIZE FARMERS IN OGUN THRU NIRSAL UNDER ADP, DFD/ABP/GEN/INT/006/058 DD170718.”
Curiously, NIRSAL did not disburse the money to the approved beneficiaries, prompting Hope Concept to take several steps to get the money paid to its members, all of which failed, including a protest march and general media briefing in Lagos.
NIRSAL showed its disapproval of the cooperative’ strategy and issued a statement to explain its role in the chain. This was because Hope Concept accused it (NIRSAL) of trying to impose new conditions on it outside of what was agreed with the CBN.
NIRSAL had described an unnamed group then as fake farmers.
Because of the twists and dimensions the case has taken, it now appears NIRSAL has sought the intervention of the police to investigate the farmers’ cooperative body, prompting the police to extend an invitation to the president of the group and three officers of the body.
The Police Special Fraud Unit, Ikoyi, in a letter reference no–CR: 3000/X/PSFU/ADMIN/AFF Vol 41/76 and dated June 6, 2019, addressed to Akin Agboola, chairman of Hope Concept Investment Cooperative, the police said they were investigating “the case of publication of false news with intent to cause alarm and provoking breach of peace with false publication”.
In the police invitation letter signed by deputy commissioner of Police, Ibrahim B. Zango, Agboola and Oyebamiji Ayobami, Adetutu Oluwasayo, and Oyelowo Success at its office at Milverton, Ikoyi on June 13, 2019 at 10 in the morning, through its officer in charge of Advane fee fraud section.
Agboola, president of Hope Concept Cooperative, had said last year that the cooperative met the conditions stipulated by the CBN for accessing the loan.
Agboola revealed, “The first thing the CBN required from us was that we have to be a minimum of 250 farmers.
“Then there must be a farmland that could be mechanised, which we have already…
“Another requirement is that members must have 5% equity. We met all the conditions.”
It was revealed that after NIRSAL verification of all of the requirements, the CBN approved the loan and paid NIRSAL on July 19, 2018 for onward payment to members of the cooperative, but the money was warehoused by NIRSAL with any clear explanation.
The anchor and off taker, Flour Mills Plc, had to back out of the deal because of the delay caused by NIRSAL. According to Agboola, Flour Mills took the decision because NIRSAL decided to cut down the prices of the inputs to be used by the farmers which the CBN, NIRSAL and the farmers had earlier agreed upon.
Flour Mills was to supply the inputs.
Agboola further said they had incurred cost in the process of acquiring and clearing the land for their business which continued to mount.
With the Police stepping in and inviting the cooperative, the parties to the transaction will be expected to divulge information concerning what truly happened that made the deal go awry.