Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, has directed the immediate suspension of all officials named in alleged extortion of farmers in the state’s ministry of agriculture through the sale of unauthorised registration forms.
Rafiu Ajakaiye, Chief Press Secretary to the governor, announced this in a statement on Wednesday. He said the government at no time approved the sale of any forms to register farmers and that found it strange that some officials could ever do such a thing to poor farmers.
The government, however, did not disclose the names of those alleged.
“In the light of the development, we wish to state the following: That neither the Governor nor the Honourable Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development at any time approved the sale of forms to anyone, including farmers, in the guise of whatever scheme or census for farmers.
“That preliminary in-house findings have been made and they suggested clear wrongdoings. That the Head of Service has accordingly been directed to suspend all the affected officials, including the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry. This is to send the signal that such misconduct will not be condoned by the Governor.”
Accordingly, he called on the anti-graft agency, EFCC, to investigate and prosecute the offenders.
“That we call on the EFCC to immediately step in to investigate and prosecute anyone found guilty of ripping off the poor farmers, thus making it clear that his administration will never tolerate such behaviours under whatever guise.”
“And, finally, that the government will ensure the refund of the money of the victim-farmers who would be requested to bring forward the said forms that they purchased to claim their refund. The government sincerely regrets this embarrassing behaviour of the affected officials and apologises to the affected farmers,” Mr Ajakaiye added.