The Gombe State Ministry of Agriculture has denied a recent report by an online medium, alleging that officials of the ministry extorted money from farmers who applied for the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) loan under the Anchor Borrowers Programme.
A statement issued by the state Commissioner of Agriculture, Alhaji Dahiru Buba Biri, said the ministry never demanded money for registration, consultancy or survey from any farmer.
He denied claims published by the online medium that the ministry officials conspired with officials from the Bank of Agriculture (BOA) to short-change farmers in the state.
Dahiru Buba Biri, who was the chairman of the Project Monitoring Team (PMT) that handled the Anchor Borrowers Programme, explained the alleged discrepancies in the dues and prices of commodities meant for distribution to farmers.
The commissioner said all decisions regarding the scheme were taken by the PMT, which comprises the ministry, CBN, BOA, state Agricultural Development Programme and farmers’ association among others.
Secretary of the All Lower Farmers Association (ALFA), Sani Idris, had petitioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), appealing to the anti- graft agency to wade into the matter and “save members of his association”.
According to the ALFA, the ministry asked members of the association to pay N20,000 as consultation fee, another N20, 000 to the surveying officer, among other sundry charges.
However, Dahiru Biri said ALFA represented by Sani Idris, was not registered to benefit from the scheme. He also called on anyone with evidence of payment with respect to the mentioned charges to come forth.