N100bn cattle ranch fund: One year after resolution, Reps yet to begin probe

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N100bn cattle ranch fund: One year after resolution, Reps yet to begin probe

N100bn cattle ranch fund: One year after resolution, Reps yet to begin probe
January 20
06:02 2018

The House of Representatives has yet to investigate the N100bn disbursed to some states by the Central Bank of Nigeria to build cattle ranches, one year after it passed a resolution on the matter.

The House had passed the resolution on January 20, 2017, following a motion moved by a member from Kogi State, Mr. Sunday Karimi.

The National Economic Council reportedly approved the release of the money in 2014 under the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan for the states to build “mini” ranches after clashes between herdsmen and farmers escalated.

But, findings by Our correspondent indicated on Friday that after a year, the House had yet to constitute an ad hoc committee to start the investigation.

When contacted, Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, told Our correspondent that he would make inquiries on why the panel was not set up and get back to the newspaper.

Namdas did not get back as he promised.

When his comments were sought, Karimi, who moved the motion for the probe, expressed surprise that nothing had been done since the House passed the resolution.

He stated, “Yes, I moved the motion. The resolution was that an ad hoc committee would be set up.

“As we speak, there is no committee. It’s a long time since the resolution was passed. I really can’t say what happened, because I don’t know.”

Incidentally, Karimi is also one of the sponsors of the grazing reserves bill pending at the National Assembly.

In 2017, Karimi, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, recalled how the Federal Government raised a committee chaired by a former Governor of Benue State, Mr. Gabriel Suswam, to investigate the frequent conflicts between herdsmen and farmers.

He informed the House that the Suswam-led committee found out that existing grazing routes had been encroached upon and “should be recovered and improved upon.”

Karimi added that, as a result of the findings of the committee, it recommended “the release of N100bn through the CBN as seed funding to all states for the construction of ranches.”

He added that though the money was released without the approval of the National Assembly, there was no evidence of how it was utilised.

“There has not been any ranch constructed anywhere in the country to account for the expenditure of the money,” he said.

A detective at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission told our correspondent that there was no ongoing investigation at the commission as regards the N100bn.

“We are currently not investigating this matter. If we get more information, then maybe we can commence a probe,” he said.

When contacted, the CBN Director of Information, Isaac Okorafor, said he had no information on whether the amount was indeed disbursed by the apex bank. When pressed further, he declined to speak on the matter.

The Director, Development Finance Department of the CBN, whose department is in charge of disbursement of intervention fund, when contacted through one of the officials of CBN, said in a text message that “We are only bankers to govt. They should enquire from the relevant MDAs. It’s not our process (sic).”

The Director of Information in the Ministry of Finance, Mr. Salisu Dambatta, when contacted and asked if the ministry indeed released the N100bn, he directed our correspondent to the Special Adviser on Media to the Minister of Finance, Oluyinka Akintunde.

Akintunde did not reply a text message sent nor picked repeated calls to him on the matter.

When our correspondent visited the ministry to speak to the Director, Home Finance, Federal Ministry of Finance, Mrs. Siyanbola Olubunmi, whose department is in charge of funds disbursement, she was said to have travelled out of the country on an official assignment.

Attempts to get her deputy, Mr. Abdulrasheed Giwa, to speak on the matter were not successful as he neither answered calls nor responded to a text message sent to him.

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