Kano Public Complaints and Anti-Corruption Commission has arrested executives of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria (RIFAN) over an alleged fraud of about N10bn Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Anchor Borrower loan.
The Commission’s Chairman, Muhuyi Magaji Rimigado confirmed this to newsmen on Thursday in Kano.
He said that the commission had arrested the Kano State Branch Chairman of RIFAN, Alhaji Abubakar Haruna Aliyu and the Deputy Secretary, Ado Hassan Yakasai.
He said their arrest was sequel to complaints about difficulty in the loan recovery as it was discovered that most of the beneficiaries are fictitious, which makes the recovery of the loan difficult, as presently less than 5% have been recovered.
Rimigado said the N10bn CBN Anchor Borrowers Scheme loan which was issued in 2018 to farmers in the state was not in cash but agriculture inputs that include fertilizers, seeds, chemicals and water pumps among others.
‘’Preliminary investigations on the loan recovery has indicated that most of the beneficiaries in the record of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria are fictitious names, addresses and the phone numbers.
‘’Ácross the 44 local government councils in the state, there are various cluster of rice farmers and it was through the cluster leaders that they carried out the fraud.’’ Rimingado said.
The anti-graft boss said the repayment of the loan is not supposed to be in cash but rather in the form of agricultural produce such as paddy rice so as to reduce the cost of rice in the country.
‘’’The alleged fraud was in collaboration with some of the contractors supplying the agriculture inputs ‘’
Also, the commission is investigating another intervention loan for the rice farmers through the Bank of Agriculture where the state government served as guarantor in 2016 to the tune of N1 billion.
This, he said is also yet to be recovered from the farmers.
A source at the commission told newsmen that the genesis of the investigation was the agreement the anti-graft body had with Rice Processors Association of Nigeria (RIPAN) during the lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic for the rice to be sold at N16,500 to the populace as a bag of rice was sold at N20,000 and above then.
However, it was discovered that the rice processors were not respecting the agreement and on investigation, they told the commission that paddy rice that was sold for N160,000 now goes for N195,000 and above.
This according to the Anchor Borrower Scheme is contrary to the principle behind the loan to the rice farmers which is supposed to make the paddy rice cheaper.