In a significant development, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has apprehended five senior officials from the Department of Farm Inputs Supports Services within the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. The arrests were made as part of an ongoing investigation into the alleged misappropriation of funds.
The operation took place on Thursday at approximately 9 am, lasting for about an hour, as ICPC operatives executed a sting operation at the officials’ office located on the 5th Floor of the Bank of Agriculture Building, situated in the Central Business District of Garki, Abuja.
Four of the officials were reportedly detained for a period of five days before being released, with one of the directors among them being granted release on health grounds. The news of these arrests has triggered unease among both the staff of the Department of Farm Inputs Supports Services and other associated organizations under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
Sources suggest that the investigation is centered around the alleged diversion of funds originally designated for monitoring exercises and sensitization programs. Regrettably, this situation has disrupted the vital process of monitoring and evaluating farm inputs, affecting the proper functioning of these programs.
Preliminary findings have revealed substantial amounts of money that have raised concerns. One of the officials under investigation had over N200 million discovered in their bank account, while a staggering N100 million was detected in the account of one of their children. Additionally, a substantial sum of N250 million in cash was found at the residence of another suspect.
Intriguingly, ICPC detectives uncovered a substantial inflow of over N60 million into the bank account of one of the suspects within a span of six months. The ICPC has taken further measures by seizing assets, including a bakery and a herbal hospital, in connection with the ongoing investigation.
Azuka Ogugua, the spokesperson for ICPC, when contacted about the matter, declined to provide specific updates on the case to the media. She emphasized that the ICPC does not engage in media trials and indicated that details of the investigation would be made public when the case is presented before a court of law.
As the investigation unfolds, the spotlight remains on these high-ranking officials within the Department of Farm Inputs Supports Services and their alleged involvement in the diversion of funds earmarked for crucial agricultural programs.