By Adeniyi Adedeji, Ilorin

The Permanent Secretary, Kwara State Ministry of Agriculture and other top officials of the ministry have been placed on immediate suspension by Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq for allegedly swindling farmers in the state. 

Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Rafiu Ajakaiye, who mede this known in a statement on Wednesday, however did not disclose the number of officials involved and their names. 

The officials, according to Ajakaiye, were reported to have extorted a good number of innocent farmers in the state through unauthorized sale of registration forms.

The governor’s spokesman said government had at no time approved the sale of any forms to register farmers, pointing out that government found it strange that some of it’s officials could have the audacity to do such a thing to poor farmers.  

He stated, “In the light of the development, we wish to state the following: that neither the governor nor the Honourable Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development at any time approved the sale of forms to anyone, including farmers, in the guise of whatever scheme or census for farmers. 

“That preliminary in-house findings have been made and they suggested clear wrongdoings; the Head of Service, HoS, has accordingly been directed to suspend all the affected officials, including the Permanent Secretary of the ministry.”

Ajakaiye added that government’s prompt action on the matter was to send the signal that such misconduct would not be condoned by the governor.

He said the resolve was also to the effect “that we call on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, to immediately step in to investigate and prosecute anyone found guilty of ripping off the poor farmers. 

“And, finally, that the government will ensure the refund of the money of the victim-farmers, who would be requested to bring forward the said forms that they purchased to claim their refund. 

“The government sincerely regrets this embarrassing behaviour of the affected officials and apologises to the affected farmers”,‎ the Chief Press Secretary concluded. 

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