NIRSAL boils of corruption against Nigerian farmers
*Needs urgent forensic auditing and action
Agriculture is the oldest known profession to mankind, and the most essential factor humanity depends on for survival. But despite the availability of fertile lands, reliable climate and labor, majority of successive governments in Nigeria have tried to advance the country’s agricultural sector. Gen. Obasanjo introduced Operation Feed the Nation (OFN), Shehu Shagari had his Green Revolution initiative, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari introduced back to farm and military president, Gen. Babangida introduced National Land Development Agency (NALDA) all geared to making agriculture a success.
But unfortunately, beneficiaries of those initiatives (farmers) are subjected to various degrees of maladies, from force seizure of their arable lands, inability to produce high quality yields, or rearing profitable livestock, to lack of modern agricultural equipments tools, financial insecurity and reasonable living conditions. To address these problems, former President Goodluck Jonathan’s government, in 2011, introduced the Nigerian Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL). NIRSAL was conceived to address those problems bedeviling the Nigerian agricultural sector through issuance of private credit from commercial banks to the agricultural sector in Nigeria, due to perception of agriculture being a high risk/low security sector. In 2013, NIRSAL was incorporated by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) with a takeoff grant of $500 million US Dollars, given the mandate to de-risk agriculture and promote credit to the sector from the commercial banking system. However, within its short existence, NIRSAL has not only fallen short of its primary objectives, it has equally become a cesspit of corruption, wherein stained personalities like its current and pioneer Managing Director, Aliyu Abatti Abdul Hameed and a host of others are alleged to have diverted NIRSAL funds to their private vaults which can further be verified through a forensic auditing.
Discreet investigation on NIRSAL reveals that head of the agency’s finance, Idris Issa Aweda, routinely uses three (3) personal Bank Accounts: FCMB (4986133010), GTB (0245155058), and Stanbic IBTC for receiving proceeds of fraud. Despite the glaring fact that NIRSAL is not a security agency, but the managing director allegedly orders payment of money for “advance of security challenges in the North-East on the farms fields”, “security challenge in the North central on the farm fields”, “advance for external security issue armored car” and “advance for security challenge in the Southeast on the farms fields”. These illegal funds are allegedly wired into the private bank accounts of Aweda.
On August 16, 2017, NIRSAL paid N8 million into the GTB account number 0245155058 of Aweda being payment for “security”. Also, on October 6, 2017, NIRSAL credited Aweda’s GTB account with the sum of N8 million for “security imprest”. As at October 2019, Aweda still received another payment into his personal account. On October 23, 2019, over N12 million was paid into Aweda’s FCMB account 4986133027. This is despite the fact that neither NIRSAL nor Mr. Idris Aweda is a security agency or falls within the mandate of NIRSAL. Find below some of the transactions that constitute part of the over one billion naira that have been so far diverted by these individuals in the name of “Security” that the Office of the National Security Advisor (ONSA) should request more explanation. These monies are allegedly moved from the bank accounts of Idris Aweda to that of Bureau De Change for foreign currency which is always handed over to one Muhammed Abdulkadir, the Personal Assistance to the ‘Ex’ MD, Aliyu Abdulhameed:
Muhammed Abdulkadir is alleged to be involved in almost every shady transaction that takes place in NIRSAL as a facilitator. He is also alleged to be aware of several number of properties purchased by the Managing Director as he is believed to have facilitated most of the purchases including houses in Maitama, Katampe, Eko Atlantic, Lagos, Germany (through one Baba Ali), the UK, Dubai, and South Africa as well as a massive plot of land along airport road Abuja, formerly owned by Diff Hospital, and a farmland in Gembu, Taraba State. Muhammed Abdulkadir allegedly serves as the fuse of the Managing Director that needs to be further investigation for other information on the scandals.
Another individual who is allegedly involved in procurement scandal in NIRSAL is one Dr. Olusegun Steven Ogidan. He ordinarily is NIRSAL’s National Coordinating Consultant of Project Monitoring and Remediation Offices (PMRO). But what is hidden to the public is that, he is the anchor man allegedly used by the Managing Director to have diverted over N30 billion from NIRSAL’s coffer.
Ogidan is solely in charge of all NIRSAL’s operations across the 36 states including the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, through his company Successory Limited, with headquarters at 54B Abidjan Street, Wuse Zone 3, Abuja. Ogidan owns Beresh Consulting, also registered in South Africa with him as a director. The company has Aluko Akinyele Oluwole, Makolo Samuel Omakoji, and Bamigboye Anthony Akinloye as directors.
Interestingly, Aluko Akinyele is the coordinator of PMRO in the South West while Mr Makolo Samuel also works as a PMRO consultant for NIRSAL.
Allegedly, several millions of dollars diverted to the Middle East, South Africa, United States, and Europe through Ogidan for the purchase of properties and luxury vehicles and items including substantial shares of a five star resort in South Africa were purchased at the sum of $5 million.
Ogidan sits as a shareholder and a director of the hotel. The name of the hotel is Vivari Hotel and it’s located at 30 Bryanston Drive, Sandton, Johannesburg.
Other properties allegedly acquired with proceeds of crime by Ogidan on behalf of Mr. Aliyu AbdulHameed are: Vivari Spa, Tropical Paradise Trading Ltd, Rotem International Services Ltd.
Beresh Consulting was also used for a training program for over 100 NIRSAL staff in South Africa. This contract, awarded to Beresh by NIRSAL, was to the tune of over N2 billion naira.
On quarterly basis, key persons from every PMRO are invited to a training session in Abuja. NIRSAL spends not less than N40 Million to organize the training. However most of the funds are diverted.
For instance, a Head of PMRO is entitled to the sum of N57,600 per night (N172,800 for 3 nights) as duty tour allowance, but ends up being paid N20,000 (N60,000 for 3 nights) – the sum diverted in this case is calculated as N8,288,000 (i.e. N112,000 X 74 attendees) per event. The bulk of the money (N21 million) is usually spent on training manuals that are never printed (5,200 copies at the rate of N4,200 each).
The Managing Director allegedly diverts over N204 million monthly with a total of N2.4 billion annually over the past four (4) years, making it a total of over N8.5 billion. This is done through the ghost-worker scheme and slashing of PMRO staff salaries. The total amount of money being spent by the Central Bank on PMRO monthly is about N309 Million. This is allocated to the 12 Zonal Coordinating Consultants (ZCCs) in charge of the 36 state offices across the country. Head PMROs receive the sum of N350,000 as monthly salary instead of N850,000 as outlined in the subsisting contract representing 41% of salary sum payable. This implies that the sum of N181million representing 59% of funds due to PMRO is continually diverted monthly since inception.
Ogidan has of recent got married a South African Lady, Julita Matlou, as a way to allow him complete his residence permit the country should the need arise. He also purchased a house in Houston Texas, United States in the AbdulRasheed Maina style.
Allegedly, the Managing Director and Ogidan use Dignity Finance and Investment Limited, a Microfinance bank headed by Yusuf Yahaya to launder money to evade detection. The Managing Director through Ogidan has taken control of this Microfinance bank. Dignity Finance is located at 5 B.O.W Maferi Close, Off O.P Fingesi Street, Utako, Abuja. This is the vehicle the duo use to move millions of dollars out of the country with ease.
Other channels allegedly used by Ogidan for the shaddy transactions include; Successory Nigeria Limited, Beresh Consulting and Global Knowledge he owns. The Managing Director maintains a permanent apartment at Ikeja, Lagos State, where NIRSAL coughs the sum of N60 million annually as rent for the apartment. Interestingly, the apartment is under the name of the Managing Director as tenant and not NIRSAL that pays the yearly bill.
In August 2018, one Imran Aliyu Abdulhameed, blood son of the managing director was arrested in Dubai for money laundering and was ferried to Ras Alkhaimah Central Prison. At the time of his arrest, he was driving a Lamborghini Urus, a four hundred thousand US dollar ($400,000) car, and was wearing an Audemars Piquet, one of the world’s most expensive wrist watches worth tens of thousands while claiming to be a student.
However, prior to his apprehension, Imran was awarded contracts worth over N2billion for the purchase of MacBook Air laptops, iPhones, drones, and ICT software used by staff of NIRSAL. During a visit for balancing the story at NIRSAL headquarters, the managing director avoided any encounter with this reporter but chose to use one Anne Ihugba who claimed to be the Public Relations Officer of the agency. Ironically, instead of addressing issues raised in the submitted petition, Anne emailed a brief on NIRSAL as reply. That was a case of accepting guilt.
The head of ICT Etin Omonbude allegedly structured these fraudulent transactions on behalf of Imran. A number of properties have also been purchased in Dubai and around the world in the name of Imran suspected by his father and his cronies. The deals were allegedly perfected by Ogidan. The nagging question begging for answer is that what is the source of those funds and were those funds available prior to the appointment of Imran’s father as Managing Director of NIRSAL or not? We carried a detail report on the family background of the managing director in Yola. That shall be in subsequent editions.
As efforts were made to expose the scandals, it was alleged that the MD has over N1billion was budgeted through Anne Ihugba for the ‘settlement’ of media houses to make sure that no story on the fraudulent activities of NIRSAL gets into the public domain. This should be further investigated by the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Radio, Television and Theatre Arts Workers Union (RATTAWU) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission and other related offences (ICPC) to dig deep down the scandal for further action.
It is alleged that in the past couple of days, millions of naira have allegedly been moved through Anne for the settlement of media houses that need to be exposed.
In another development, one Oluwatosin Ariyo planned and “executed” a N5.6 billion, 20,000-hectare dry season wheat project in Kano and Jigawa States. N5.6 billion was supposed to finance the cultivation-to-harvest of twenty thousand (20,000) hectares of dry season wheat in Kano and Jigawa States. The plains of North-West Nigeria, including Kano and Jigawa States, are known for excellent cultivation of wheat, but for the non-prioritization of such in the past by governments and the organized private sector. Thus, NIRSAL’s wheat programme in this instance meant N280,000 per hectare, which is the average standard funding amount adopted by NIRSAL on almost all of its grain programmes. Of the 20,000hectares financed, only 400 hectares was actually cultivated representing a mere 2 percent. This means that only about N112,000,000 (one hundred and twelve million naira) was actually disbursed to the farm sites in Kano and Jigawa States, leaving N5.488 billion, or 98 percent of the total project sum diverted to personal use by certain individuals and their own personal corporate entities such as the acquisition of a house in the United Kingdom allegedly on behalf of the Managing Director by Oluwatosin Ariyo and one Arch. Ibrahim Abdullahi, a close friend to the NIRSAL Managing Director that was allegedly involved in a fraudulent livestock contract in Adamawa.
Three companies were responsible for the receipt of the loan, namely: Forest Hill, Mainframe and Woodfarm. However, allegedly a huge fraud characterized the utilization of the loan as the Managing Director and his cronies perfected a fraudulent act of round tripping the loans meant for farmers. The project is not hinged on NIRSAL’s Anchor Borrowers programme, but on a corporate participation programme. Officers at NIRSAL who planned the programme understood that NIRSAL’S operating guidelines has a single obligor limit which does not allow for a single company to be supported to execute a N5.6 million project.
To get around this impediment, the planners engaged the three companies, which then split the total sum of the project into three with respective amounts not exceeding the single obligor limit of NIRSAL. This is the first grave infringement on this package. The Managing Director allegedly has substantial business interests in at least two of the companies. The arrangement was for the three companies to work out for respective agricultural instrument facilities with a commercial bank, which they did, to execute the 20,000-hectare wheat programme. NIRSAL’s role, as defined in the books, is dual: to guarantee up to, but not more than 70% of each of the instrument facilities, and then to also use its Interest-Drawback principle to offset a certain percentage of the interest paid by the borrower to the lending bank so long as the borrower is quarterly up to date with its loan obligations.
Keystone Bank offered the instrument facilities to the participating companies squarely as an agricultural facility for a wheat production programme. The participating companies “approached” NIRSAL for its dual role of guaranteeing such loans, as well as for the application of its Interest Drawback principle. NIRSAL got involved, and then Keystone began its disbursements to the participating companies (loanees). The administrative setting is done with, and the field work for a wheat production set to commence.
A short length into the field work, Keystone Bank observed actions which may be defined as potential infringements of the agreements entered into between it and the three companies, variously. Keystone Bank, in July 2019, then launched an audit enquiry into its dealings with the three companies. Keystone Bank was concerned that the terms of its dealings with Forest Hill Agricultural Development Limited, for instance, had been breached, and so the Bank had stopped further transfers of funds between Forest Hill and its other partners.
In the present instance, Forest Hill had requested Keystone Bank to transfer, from Forest Hill’s account, the sum of five hundred and forty-three million naira (N543,000,000.00) to Mainframe, to cover for expenses incurred by Mainframe on behalf of Forest Hill on the wheat project under consideration. “…Exceptions noted in our enquiry” is what Keystone Bank stated as reason for declining further transfer transactions between Forest Hill and Mainframe.
Keystone Bank noted these exceptions as: (1) That Forest Hill had “mentioned” that it had cultivated and harvested 1,060 hectares of wheat in the initial planting season which ended April 2019, which was in line with the approved transaction cycle. However, the sales proceeds for this harvested wheat did not reflect in Forest Hill’s bank account with Keystone Bank, thus violating the irrevocable letter of domiciliation executed by Forest Hill to the effect that all proceeds of the wheat in this programme shall be deposited in the account of Forest Hill domiciled with Keystone Bank. This means that Forest Hill either did not sell the harvested wheat or that it sold the wheat but diverted the proceeds away from Keystone Bank. But Keystone Bank’s enquiry did not find the wheat! This only suggests that the proceeds were diverted which is a gross violation of the terms of agreement between the Bank and Forest Hill.
Equally, Keystone Bank noted that, Forest Hill “mentioned”, during the enquiry, that it planted rice during, the period of the contract. This modified the project scope as there was no rice in the original contract agreement between the Bank and Forest Hill. Keystone Bank was not informed of the modification. Thus, this spells out another gross violation on the part of Forest Hill. Experts say investigators may not buy this explanation, as it will be viewed as diversionary.
Keystone Bank, in the enquiry, reviewed the Forest Hill’s bank account in question, and then “observed numerous transactions between Forest Hill, Mainframe and Woodfarm,” noting that these transactions “were not as per the approved utilization schedule”, since the companies are separate entities with different directors, which cannot be viewed as a group
Keystone Bank found that the Forest Hill made out, from its loan account, to pay ACT Agribusiness Limited the sum of three hundred million naira (N300,000,000.00) for Land Preparation and Irrigation (Mechanisation) for a land area of 6,500 hectares. Keystone Bank, in its audit enquiry, found that the agreement between Forest Hill and ACT Agribusiness Limited was for 1,060 hectares. Hence, Keystone Bank required Forest Hill to either provide contract documents obligating ACT Agribusiness to complete the outstanding 5,440 hectares, or that the balance of payment for the outstanding hectares be refunded into the loan account. Investigators know very well that this is one of the commonest methods of stealing public money in Nigeria – documenting “payments” for jobs that are never done, which is a major financial crime.
Also, in relation to the mechanization defense put forth by Forest Hill, Keystone has argued that this actual cost of mechanization is incurred on behalf of Mainframe. Hence, passing this cost to Forest Hill, as it is in this case, while Forest Hill itself has its own cost of Mechanization to the tune of N300,000,000.00, would bring the total cost of mechanization to six hundred million naira (N600,000,000.00). This figure exceeds the five hundred and forty million naira (N540,000,000.00) budgeted for mechanization in the Utilization Schedule submitted to the Bank.
In the case of the purchase of seeds, Forest Hill claims paying N117.45 million. This figure reflects the seeds to cover 6,500 hectares while the mechanization process was only done on 1,060 hectares. Hence where is the balance payment for the outstanding 5, 440 hectares, since that has not been paid back into the Bank account?
Mainstreet Capital paid NIRSAL fees and Insurance Premium of N120 million on behalf of Woodfarm Project. Forest Hill, from its loan account, made a refund of this amount to Woodfarm. But both NIRSAL and the insurance company refunded this total amount after cancelling such payments, but such a refund is yet to be reflected in Forest Hill’s account. Suffice to note here that Oluwatosin Ariyo’s brother is a portfolio manager at Mainstreet Capital.
There is no doubt that the monies budgeted for the wheat project, were laundered. Investigation revealed that the shea seeds bought above were actually bought for a shea butter processing factory, in New Bussa, Niger State, allegedly owned by Mr Abdulhameed. The Shea butter factory was set up for Abdulhameed by Oluwatosin Ariyo, a Senior Technical Assistant to Mr Abdulhameed. To perfect the criminality, Mr Ariyo used his brother’s company, Agriable Limited, to set up Abdulhameed’s Shea butter company in New Bussa. Agriable Limited is not the only company that Ariyo used to launder NIRSAL money for Aliyu. Sheaco Nigeria Limited is another!
There is an emphatic allegation that the proceeds from the fraudulent bungling of this wheat project have been channeled, by Ariyo and one other Arch. Ibrahim Abdullahi, to buying a house for Abdulhameed in the United Kingdom. Ibrahim Abdullahi is also alleged to have supervised the building of a luxury home for Abdulhameed, in Yola, Adamawa State, with the funds from the bungled Kano-Jigawa wheat project. Oluwatosin Ariyo was (and possibly still is) a signatory to Mainframe and has signed the bank mandates of Mainframe (the company used for the wheat transaction). Oluwatosin Ariyo, the Senior Technical Assistant (STA) to the Managing Director is a key figure used in siphoning billions of naira on behalf of the Managing Director. Oluwatosin serves as a signatory to a number of NIRSAL bank accounts with commercial banks. These accounts have mostly been used for investments in fixed deposits and to divert the interest accrued on the fixed deposits. Much of these funds are kept in accounts under the control of Oluwatosin. An example is over N4 billion invested, at one time, in fixed deposit with the old Skye Bank (now Polaris Bank). This fixed deposit scheme has been perfected by Oluwatosin and other staff close to the Managing Director as they use this scheme to divert and gain interest on funds released for the Anchor Borrowers Programme. This leads to delayed supply of inputs to farmers at a time that these inputs are not needed by the farmers thereby leading to tremendous losses by the farmers.
Secondly, these inputs are supplied to the farmers at prices above what is obtainable in the open market thereby increasing the cost of production and likelihood of default in loan repayment by the farmers. These fraudulent activities have resulted in millions of farmers defaulting on loan obligations, resulting in innocent farmers being blacklisted as not credit-worthy and excluded financially, making life more difficult for the farmers as they will be unable to take out or even be considered for any loans in future. Another fixed investment orchestrated by Oluwatosin is that of over N5 billion naira (Five billion naira) at Mainstreet capital where his brother works as a portfolio manager for the fixed investment. Oluwatosin and his brother have been using the interest generate from this investment for their personal use.
The following companies owned by the Managing Director’s associates were presented and approved by NIRSAL for the provision of Credit Risk Guarantee (CRG) covers totaling N48.9 billion. Four of these companies listed below where approved in clear violation of the CRG guidelines which stipulates a single obligor limit of N2 billion. The companies are: Odejad Agro N900 Million; Sustivar Technologies (affiliated to Kayode Ashaolu, Senior Technical Assistant to the MD) N5 Billion; SCAGRIC N19 billion (Samil Asha; front of the Managing Director); Agricultural Access Development Company N11 billion; ACT Agribusiness N13 billion.
As against the federal government’s policy on replacement of official vehicles after 4 years (except when possibly involved in accidents that require them to be written off) the Managing Director directed that the depreciation of his official vehicles be fast-tracked from 4 years to 3 years by reclassifying his SUV to operational vehicle, to enable him procure 2 armored vehicles at the cost of N180m without approval from the office of the National Security Adviser. Despite the reclassification, the initial SUV is still in his custody. The Managing Director presently has 11 official vehicles assigned to him across various locations in the country with 5 in Abuja including two (2) armored vehicles (Toyota Landcruiser JTMHX09J5F4083758 and Lexus LX 570 JTJHY00W2J4260990) which were procured at a cost of N180 million without approval from the office of the National Security Adviser.
He is also said to move around with a bullet proof vest due to various dealings with unscrupulous and dangerous individuals and groups. Contrary to company policy, no official vehicle has been given to any senior management staff since inception. On the other hand, consultants to NIRSAL have been assigned company vehicles for official and private use.
Further investigation reveals that Managing Director Aliyu AbdulHameed and Innocent Azeobokhai, in collaboration with travel agencies, such as Alfa Global Air Services Ltd, Mavea Travel and Tours, and Stanzar Travel & Tours, conspired and defrauded NIRSAL in hundreds of millions. Travel tickets are regularly inflated, while huge sums that are paid to agents upfront were not retired. This multi-billion-naira fraud is handled by the Head of Travels, Events and Protocol Department of NIRSAL, Innocent Azeobokhai.
It may interest the President Muhammadu Buhari administration and other Nigerians to know that the Managing Director is usually paid in cash his full Duty Travel Allowances (which cover costs of accommodation and feeding) yet, the organization still settles his hotel bills during local and foreign travels. This amounts to receiving DTA twice on every travel.
The Managing Director also uses public funds to cover the travel expenses of his family members and friends through the above mentioned travel agencies. His wife and son have enjoyed First Class travels with public funds. The MD and the head of Travels have also been replacing the names of staff to cover up travel transactions by replacing the names of the MD’s friends and family members with NIRSAL staff in order to approve payments.
The MD and the Head of Travel Innocent have also been creating fake travel transactions on behalf of the staff of NIRSAL in order to justify movement of funds from NIRSAL to these travel agencies without the trips actually taking place. Such instances include; the disbursement of N1,462,480 for the travels of Oluwatosin Ariyo to South Africa for risk management training and that of Abdulkadir Muhammad for another N1,462,480 made to Alfa Global. Another such fraudulent transaction is that of Imran Aliyu (the son of the MD) for N2,197,000.00 for a First Class return ticket on Emirate airline from Lagos to Dubai on the 15th of June, 2019. Another such transaction is that of N2,257,087.00 for the same Imran Aliyu for a First Class ticket from Dubair to Munich to Barcelona and then back to Dubai on the 18th of June, 2019, a few days after arriving Dubai.
Other fraudulent transactions include the payment of funds to the above mentioned travel agencies for the Airtime of the MD that runs into millions of Naira. Samil Asha who is a front of the MD has also been enjoying such travel tours by the MD of NIRSAL through the above mentioned travel agencies. Another Such travel is that of a first class ticket purchased for Aishatu Deal Hamidu, wife of the MD, on Emirates from Abuja to Dubai to Delhi, back to Dubai to Abuja on the 17th of March 2019 by Alfa Global. Multiple of such transactions and fraudulent transactions that never occurred have been used to divert and siphon hundreds of millions of Naira from NIRSAL by the MD.
Under Managing Director Aliyu, NIRSAL had offered employment to the daughter of Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, Sekinat Adamu, who was almost immediately flown to Morocco on an official trip, with a generous estacode in US Dollars, despite her inexperience compared to more senior colleagues. The agency is full of such employments doled out to friends and associates of the MD in exchange for favors and/or influence.
There is a backlog of operating and capital expenditures approved by the MD which are above his approval limits for which no board approval was obtained. Most of these contracts were never executed. For instance, the sum of N618 million was single-handedly approved by the MD as cost of design, implementation and management of a call centre and service delivery (N292,247,230.70) and design, implementation and support of enterprise network infrastructure (N326,175,894.37) without the board’s approval. The MD’s approval limit for this category of transaction (capital expenditure) is N20million. The call centre and enterprise network infrastructure do not exist anywhere in the country as at today.
Contracts worth tens of billions have been awarded by the MD without the jobs or contracts ever done. One of such is an ERP contract of about N1.3 billion. Other expenses (since 2017) include; N122million training expenses awarded to Wildleaf Ltd., In January 2017, N263 million was awarded to Bamili for Study Tour. In December 2017, N227 Million training expenses was awarded to Bokadi, while N154 Million was awarded to EPMS for General Management. N107 milion was also awarded to Freshvine as Training expense, while Data Acquisition and Software contracts were awarded to inteliwork (N66.2m), Circus Advance (N58m) and Bokadi Links (N55 million).
In the bid to be compliant with approval limits as from 2019 following years of breaches of approval processes, the Procurement Department guided by the MD resorted to contract splitting; most of these contracts were also never executed. Examples: AVC Capacity Development contract totaling N953m was split into 64 contracts of less than N15m each. In August 2019, AVC Gap Assessment contract which worth N119m was also split into 8 contracts of less than N15m per contract, while in September 2019, Specialized Risk Management Services had its N136 million contract split into 3 contracts.
NIRSAL invested directly in a number of projects called Farmsmart which were deliberately designed to fail. These projects have now been reclassified as technical assistance (also known as proof of concept projects) to allow the funds to be written off. Two of such companies include SCAGRIC Ltd represented by Samil Asha (a dark ally of MD Aliyu) and Tradeco Ltd. While N348.2 million was invested in the former, N54.3 million was invested in the latter.
Olalekan Olusanya, Head of Internal Audit of the organization, was illegally dismissed from NIRSAL, even after he had duly sent in his resignation from the organization. Olusanya was removed from his position after he had refused, on professional grounds in keeping with the dictates of his profession, to edit certain portions of an audit report that indicted the Managing Director.
Olusanya would be subjected to series of dehumanizing measures including seizure of his official laptop and phones while he was transferred to Agricultural Extension and Field Services Unit without any job responsibilities assigned to him. He went on to present his resignation, only to be summarily dismissed without following due process of progressive disciplinary measures and documented opportunity for him to respond to any allegations against him.
A staff of NIRSAL, one Olusola Omole, a Head of one of the Technical Units of the organization, was dismissed for allegedly interacting with the hitherto dismissed Head of Audit, claiming that he violated the Managing Director’s sacred oath of secrecy some staff were ‘forced’ to sign.
Seven staffers of the organization were summarily dismissed on the excuse of not being loyal to the Managing Director, even though they had no professional misconduct issues against them.
It was discovered that Aliyu Abbati Abdulhameed had fraudulently changed his name from Aliyu Hamid to Aliyu Abbati Abdulhameed without the proper legal documentation and publication in any media outlet/newspaper in order to hide his criminal conviction prior to his engagement by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Aliyu had once served jail time in Jimeta Prison for fraud and therefore couldn’t have been appointed as a Managing Director of a Financial Institution under the Central Bank in accordance with the qualifications of a director under the Companies and Allied Matters Act, the CBN Act and the Banks and other Financial Institutions Act. Suffice to add that, Ibrahim Abdullahi has full knowledge details of the Managing Director’s conviction as he is his childhood friend who is also presently serving as his driver.
It is most repugnant that a financial crime ex- convict was appointed to manage a USD500 million-dollar company, owned by the Central Bank of Nigeria and created to support local farmers across Nigeria. This initial seed fund is usually invested in commercial banks and generates about N4 billion interests. This interests usually transfers to NIRSAL bank accounts for the purpose of running the day-to-day operations of the organisation. Unfortunately, funds meant to improve the lives and operations of farmers across the country have been and are still being diverted.
Aliyu has been using the individuals mentioned above to divert huge sums of money running into billions of Naira over the past three and a half years. Petitions have, over time, been written to the EFCC, Nigeria Police Force and the National Assembly relating to illegal diversion of organizational funds but no serious investigation seems to have been carried. The Managing Director seems to use perceived connections to people of influence to muzzle any concerns about his illegal activities.
He routinely name drops the CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, to defend his indefensible acts of impunity, claiming that the CBN Governor would have removed him if he wasn’t doing things right which is a blatant lie.
Many of the stated cases of malfeasance and corrupt practices were confirmed by a Board Audit Report commissioned by the CBN Governor and chaired by CBN deputy governor Edward Adamu, which has been suppressed and not implemented for reasons best known to the CBN Governor who is also Chairman of NIRSAL.
The height of the hijack of the institution of NIRSAL is the expiration of the tenure of Aliyu Abdulhameed as Managing Director NIRSAL on December 23, 2020, having attained the five years contract he was given, commencing on December 23, 2015. Abdulhameed has refused to relinquish the reins of office, holding the entire organization hostage while pursuing a supposedly, in his words to close associates, “guaranteed reappointment”.
In the face of all of these colossal crimes committed, the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami SAN, seems to be shielding Aliyu against the sword of justice.
The MD through his office, NIRSAL, has been engaging with the office of the Attorney General to frustrate any attempt by security agencies to investigate the level of fraud carried out in NIRSAL. In a letter written to the Attorney General by the MD of NIRSAL titled “Request for Intervention on Unwarranted and Multiple Investigations of NIRSAL PLC By Law Enforcement Agencies”, referenced NIR/MD/GEN/TAPD/24/20/03, and dated 29th January, 2020 to the Honorable Minister of Justice requesting for the intervention in the ongoing investigation of NIRSAL by security agencies. Based on this petition from NIRSAL, the Office of the Attorney General, through the Department of Public Prosecution of the Federation, wrote to the Nigeria Police in a letter referenced DPPA/NIRSAL/110/20, and dated 4th of February, forbidding the institution from carrying out the investigation.
In view of the directive of the Attorney-General to the relevant security and anti-corruption agencies, should the managing director be allowed to escape justice? We doubt.
More exposures on the ongoing corrupt practices in NIRSAL that will reveal the mess in that organization charged with a huge responsibility. Focus on zonal offices and how loan applicants are extorted and shortchanged.