Accused of N75 billion theft, boss of CBN’s NIRSAL opens up to Pulse [ARTICLE]

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Launched in 2011 and incorporated in 2013 by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), NIRSAL was created to be a dynamic and holistic $ 500 million public-private initiative that will catalyze the flow of finance and investments in fixed agricultural value chains.

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However, highly placed sources in Abuja count Pulse that the organization has been so badly managed recently in Hameed's clock.

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On Wednesday, March 18, 2020, protesters holding placards and placards aloft inscribed with messages like: “The government must stop stealing money from farmers by NIRSAL” ”,“ NIRSAL is killing farmers. ”“ The Borrowers program is a lie ” it besieged NIRSAL's headquarters on the Tigris 1581 plot, in the Maitama area, in the upscale Abuja neighborhood, while asking for Hameed's head or bag.

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The protest was the culmination of the dissent against Hameed's perceived maladministration in NIRSAL's finances, staff members who anonymously tell this story. Pulse.

A source familiar with the negotiations at NIRSAL claims that the chief “It recently acquired two cars: Lexus Jeep and Land Cruiser. He started using the Lexus Jeep in Abuja, but the Land Cruiser must be used in Yola. In fact, he bought two of them for about N180 million. He bought his previous Land Cruiser at the same time with the DEs (executive directors). He controls about 8 SUVs alone at the moment.

“He has an SUV in Kano, two in Lagos, two in Adamawa, one at his home in Abuja, his wife uses one and he just bought two bulletproof SUVs now.

“The information that comes to us says that he took money for Edward Adamu (Vice-Governor, CBN), who also serves as President, NIRSAL's Audit Committee and a few other key members of the audit committee on Thursday, but they rejected the money.

“The money should buy him a soft landing after the Audit Committee meeting. The meeting revealed a lot of fraud issues that he perpetrated in the system, reaching billions of Naira. "

CBN's Adamu did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Alleged N5bn fraud in Jigawa

In December 2019, Hameed was accused of fraud worth billions of Naira.

The project was a "failed" wheat farm and processing project in the state of Jigawa, overseen by one of the advisers to the NIRSAL chief, sources said.

The project is claimed to have cost N5 billion, but no agricultural or processing equipment was purchased for the project, sources claim.

“NIRSAL granted its 75% Credit Risk Guarantee on the loan obtained from Keystone Bank, in addition to guaranteeing the loan with its deposit in the bank for a third party transaction totally against the best practices.

"Aliyu (the first name of the CEO) used many fake companies almost three months old to perpetrate this. Many of these fraudulent practices have been taking place at the financial institution since Aliyu took over its management.

“Meanwhile, there is also an ongoing investigation into another N4.3 billion in inflated personnel costs, especially at NIRSAL field offices located in each state of the federation and at FCT.

"The field office staff, with around 500, has always received less than 50% of their monthly salary, while the remaining 50%, worth more than N200 million, are being diverted monthly", another source offered.

The daughter of the IGP

A NIRSAL team that also defends the anonymity of this story claims that Hameed handed a plum paper in the organization to the daughter of the Inspector General of Police, Sekina Adamu, "And immediately put her on the plane to Morocco, so that she could receive staccodes worth hundreds of dollars a day, when the employees who were here did not have the opportunity to travel. What a novice knows is now being asked to fly around the world because she is the daughter of the IGP? "

Another highly placed source in NIRSAL counts Pulse hours after the March 18 protest, an emergency meeting was called within the organization where the Nigeria All Farmers Association (AFAN) presented a prize to MD NIRSAL. “The award was designed to commend him and disassociate himself from the group that protested. Very sad what my company has become. "

NIRSAL employees also speak of a culture of fear and intimidation at work and how their offices are damaged to ensure that no one is speaking to the press within the facility.

The NIRSAL team also received “Declaration of fidelity and confidentiality” that they must fill out. "It's like working for a dictator at NIRSAL now and we arrive at the office every day, cringing with fear and intimidation."

Hameed defends itself

In an hour-long conversation with Pulse, Hameed says that most of the allegations he has had to deal with recently are due to ignorance of how NIRSAL works and why it was created.

“NIRSAL should be a guarantee agency. We do not distribute a Kobo. We issue paper, guaranteeing you the banker, so that, if something happens to your money, you return to us. But, of course, as a risk company, we guarantee that the event does not happen.

"Because if we don't monitor in the field and events happen and we keep paying … that means CBN is paying, then what is the purpose of the organization's existence?" it starts.

“What is so confusing to the public is when you tell people that NIRSAL doesn't touch a government Kobo. Go to the national assembly, there was never an appropriation for NIRSAL to spend. And we are not designed to spend money.

“In fact, we don't even have the money to spend. Our objective is to issue guarantees to bankers and investors against this capital.

"The NIRSAL building belongs to CBN. All of our offices are managed by CBN branches across the country. The reason is that we have reduced the burden of our small earnings so that we can pay employee salaries and continue to serve farmers when they lend money. .

“CBN is the chairman of the board and supervises. This means that the governor of CBN, Godwin Emefiele, is chairman of the NIRSAL board.

"NIRSAL's approval was made by former President Goodluck Jonathan. But we took off under President Muhammadu Buhari. This means that it was under Buhari that we were established or incorporated.

“In the beginning, I rented a bungalow in Maitama, used my own money and friends to pay for this and that. Sometimes, when I didn't have the money to pay for the diesel for the generator, I had to borrow money. We operated in this bungalow for six months until the first board meeting. We created this organization from scratch, with no more than seven employees in the initial stage " he adds.

Praise to Emefiele

Hameed also praises the governor of CBN for his kind words and support.

"I do not fail to praise my boss, Gov Emefiele. This is a governor of CBN who does not act as governor of CBN.

“CBN governors should be quiet, taking care of inflation, monetary policy, financial instability, exchange rates. But Emefiele? He made his life's ambition to use the CBN system to do more development finance in agriculture.

“Nothing keeps Emefiele awake like doing rice, palm oil and so on. You know it. We work with the policies developed by the Federal Ministry of Agriculture. If there is one organization that deserves the highest merit award for national productivity, it is NIRSAL. We add value, train farmers and put bankers to work.

“They claim that I put all of CBN's capital in my pocket. Imagine that here I am, I go to CBN and do spells to approve so I can carry it? As CBN says: "come in, carry N72.5 billion and go?"

“We held quarterly board meetings without fail. Everything I do in this place is controlled by the council. It's their money, I'm just a servant.

“Everything we do at NIRSAL is for the public good. Throughout its existence so far, NIRSAL has facilitated N100 billion in the agricultural sector. Honestly, Nigerians need to be proud of this baby and not try to bring it down with false claims. "

At the March 18 protest, Hameed says the protesters were hired for peanuts and didn't even know why they were in his office.

"The people who came to protest, we asked them, do you know NIRSAL, said they don't know. They said NIRSAL should give us money for the government. The protesters were sponsored. They didn't even know what we do here. They said that received N1,000 to carry the posters.

“My board did not nominate me, my board continues to praise me.

"There is a huge campaign of slander against me and this organization. Don't forget that the agricultural agenda of the presidency and the central bank is getting in the way of a lot of people. Like tomato importers, palm oil importers and the rest are very angry and unhappy.

"They asked; 'Why shouldn't CBN give foreign exchange? Why should Emefiele be manipulating this revolution? Emefiele never forgets where he comes from in Agbor. How he grew up. How he suffered to get through school. You sees as governor of CBN on TV, but believe me, this man is a completely different person. He is so full of humility and love.

“He tells me that Aliyu, if you think you're being attacked once, multiply that by a hundred in terms of what I get.

Emefiele's heart is clean. I learn humility with Emefiele. Some people think that my job is a political commitment and they attack me. Someone told me that you think this honeymoon will continue? His baptism is coming.

"Without Emefiele, we would not be where we are as an organization. Credit should not come to me. If people attack me, they are attacking this government's agricultural policy. People are angry at being prevented from importing rice. There are sponsors behind of all these media attacks.

“How can anyone write that the MD of NIRSAL put all the capital in his pocket and ran away?

“They say I stole N75 billion or N5.6 billion from a wheat project in Jigawa? They say my son drives a Lamborghini and is spending millions of dollars on the streets of Dubai … come on! "

Force staff to sign non-disclosure and dictatorship forms at NIRSAL

Under allegations that he is forcing his employees to sign secrecy agreements, Hameed says, "When I pay salaries, you hear complaints; when I do training, people complain, when I do well-being, they are ready to receive information.

"If I sign at this table those who made ICAN pay their debts or that lawyers pay their debts in the NBA, I can guarantee that other people who are not lawyers would write to you to say that I am practicing favoritism.

“If everything I do here as a CEO is subject to a second try, it is up to us to find out what is reasonable or what is not.

“Which organization, from the Zenith bank or any organization in this world, would allow you to violate your IT policy or corporate policy? So you mean that everything I do here, all the decisions of the council, I must call the team and say please, can you take it out and share it?

"Is there an organization that does not have a corporate governance code and secrecy oath? Is this not supported by law? What are we doing is not supported by company laws in Nigeria and around the world or not? There are no confidentiality agreements in corporate environments everywhere?

“All organizations perform background checks and certificate checks on the entry team or the criminal record. The oath of secrecy we take here is not about running the organization, but since your wife or children attend XYZ schools, their addresses should not be exposed.

“As some employees are responsible for personal files, others are responsible for their salary file. So, someone wants to upload our team file, salary file and team location number and share it with the kidnappers and murderers, right?

"If employees are complaining, why, when they join, don’t they say they don’t sign the secrecy oath like any other organization? Why don’t they leave? And who said that as a young organization, we can’t improve our regulations and rules as we go? how do we learn?

“There are some things that are reasonable, others that are meaningless. If I don't do what I'm supposed to do as CEO, I can step down and tell Gov Emefiele that I can't do this job anymore.

"If any staff assist you with these allegations, ask them why they did not resign and went to any organization in the United States or Nigeria where they do not sign corporate governance forms. In fact, I am also employed here, I have also signed these forms. "

Allegations of nepotism

Under allegations that he named a daughter of the country's chief of police to please the IGP and protect himself from interrogation and possible arrest, Hameed says that nothing could be further from the truth.

“So if your sister or your son or brother’s son qualifies for a job after an interview and I say come and do a job, he knows risk management, he knows finance, he knows agriculture, then it’s a crime because I know Jude, don't you employ that person?

“Forget whether it's the IG (inspector general) or President Buhari or Governor Emefiele or that man on the street.

“Most of my technical assistants are from which ethnic group? Tosin (one of his assistants) is from Osun state. They even wrote that I have a car and a driver. Why should the NIRSAL MD have a driver? Or why should my wife have a driver?

“You know, 90% of our work is in the woods with farmers, kidnappers and armed robbers. If you guarantee a project, you need to monitor it on the spot so that it doesn't fail. The council decided to buy bulletproof cars for employees, management and board members when they visit the site. And they say that Aliyu bought cars….

"The council bought these cars and said, 'Are all these cars yours, drive them?' Have the cars been bought in my name or are there company assets? They say the MD has 11 cars spread across all over the country, right? Why can't they say that all the bulletproof vehicles, pick-ups, are from Aliyu? In other words, why did God create me? Because they say why my kids should go to school ?

"If I leave NIRSAL today, I will leave all assets here for the use of the new doctor.

“They said that one of my technical assistants married a foreign wife or a consultant in a company. In fact, they said to Tosin: hey, does your wife have a baby in the USA? We will deal with you.

"They say my son has $ 5 million and he lives on the streets of Dubai with a Lamborghini … a green Lamborghini with a white man inside. They said he was arrested and is giving away a million dollars. In the meantime, the boy is in my home state, Yola, to spend the holidays.

“Do they say why I should escort when traveling the Abuja-Kaduna road? That I should be exposed to bandits. Tell them that whoever plans to murder me, I'm sorry, would not make me available to be killed. It's that simple.

“My head of corporate communications, Ann, is from the state of Imo. Eze (head of my most sensitive unit) is from the state of Abia and Osagie is from the state of Edo. Everyone who works closely with me comes from different states in the country.

“And then they choose a person and say why do I give Jude's brother a job! If I don't give Jude or his brother a job, is he an American for whom I would give the job?

“When I travel for business, I travel with entire team members. If you speak French, I take you as a French speaker.

“It turns out that Sekina, daughter of the IGP, is fluent in French. Morocco speaks French. And all of you (speaking to his team) were there when I signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with King Mohammed VI and President Buhari, so that we can partner with Morocco, a country so advanced in agriculture.

“In Morocco, they speak Arabic or French. So shouldn't a French speaking team, which is her job and her table, come with me? Since Jude's brother speaks French, shouldn't I carry him because I'm afraid? Is this how you run an organization? I don't run this place in fear " Hameed says, emotion analyzing his every word.

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