A petition sent to the Attorney General of the Federation and obtained by Secret Reporters has detailed how the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in conjunction with Cellulant Nigeria Limited that is supposed to liaise with the selected agro-dealers nationwide to make the products available for distribution to farmers, but Cellulant through one Mr. Gbenga Owolabi with phone number: 08099307222 who is the head of Cellulant Abuja office connived with some officials of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and collected a bribe of N65,000 from each of the selected agro-dealers and any agro-dealer who refuse to pay the said amount is delisted from the selected agro-dealers list
Cellulant is a Mobile Money company contracted by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to disburse farm inputs/implements to registered farmers across the country in line with the subsidy regime on agriculture of the federal government via the Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GES).
We gathered that most of the federal and state Directors of Ministry of Agriculture are owners of most of the agro-dealers which makes it easier for the fraud to be perpetrated without any hindrance. Most of the agro-dealers are meant to pay the bribe to a bank account provided by Mr. Gbenga Owolabi,
The agro-dealers mostly also increase/inflate figures of inputs given to farmers in order to recoup back their monies which they used in paying bribes to Cellulant and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and State Ministry of Agriculture officials. The inflated input figures are recorded by the agro-dealers and submitted to Cellulant and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and the Federal Government end up paying for the inflated input figures.
Most of the Directors of Fertilizer Input Supply Department of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Abuja and also state Directors of Fertilizer Input Supply Department of State Ministry of Agriculture are involved in the fraud.
There is also a case of validation card/farmer ID which is to be given to farmers free of charge but Cellulant in connivance with the agro-dealers and some staff of Federal Ministry of Agriculture and state ministries of Agriculture charge #200 for the cards.
According to the petitioner, they usually charge N100 for the cards and later on increased the fee to N200 and no evidence of payment of such monies is given to the farmers. Protesting such injustice/fraud amounts to denial of inputs as the protesting farmer details will not be checked/entered talk more of allowing the said farmer to collect his/her inputs.
Even fresh registration is not free as every farmer who wants to register at the redemption center is meant to pay N200 for the validation card/farmer ID if not he won’t be registered; meanwhile the card is supposed to be free. Some states pay as much as N500 for same card.
Some of the agro-dealers culpable are AT&S, Hulhude and Hasken Noma. Hulhude covers Niger state, FCT, Kaduna and some northern states while Hasken Noma covers Kano state and some northern states too and then AT&S covers Benue state. Even the agro-dealers who initially declined later on had to co-operate in order not to be de-listed and denied the contract of supplying inputs to the farmers due to the threat from Mr. Gbenga Owolabi of Cellulant Nigeria Limited Abuja office which can be verified by the agro-dealers association of Nigeria.
Information available to this website is that Cellulant Nigeria Limited has been under investigation by EFCC for some level of fraud perpetrated under Growth Enhancement Support Scheme (GES) during the administration of Goodluck Jonathan so it is highly surprising and disappointing that the same Cellulant was awarded the contract to carry out the same assignment again by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
According to one of the fraud victims who narrated his ordeal “Instead of the N17,750 I was told in the SMS, I was told I was to pay N19,000. As an ordinary Nigerian that had no voice, I gave the said amount of N19,000 with no receipt issued. There was also no receipt issued for the N200 they collected for the validation card/farmer ID”
“As if that wasn’t enough, the items were incomplete. The herbicides went missing and so did the insecticides.
Although, I was given rice seedling (which I actually preferred) in place of maize and an additional NPK in place of the unavailable organic fertilizer.
When I got home, I discovered that one of the micronutrient had expired on 27th January, 2017” Asking rhetorically, he said “Who does the extra N1,250 go to? Who does the N200 go to? What happened to the herbicides and insecticides? Who supplied the expired micronutrients”
When Secret Reporters contacted Gbenga of Cellulant, he rudely said he does not “talk to ghosts”, that our reporter should come to his office for any clarification we need.