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Though not yet independently verified, it has been gathered that Nassar Abubakar Saddiq Baba, believed to be one of the sons of a governorship candidate in Bauchi State is facing investigation regarding the diversion and non-refund of the sum of a N3.6b agricultural loan.
Nassar, according to sources conversant with the issue, is being questioned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over refusal to refund a N3.6b loan he acquired from the NIRSAL and the Anchor Borrower agricultural initiatives of the Federal Government of Nigeria.
It was gathered gathered that Nassar refused to refund the said sum long after it was due and instead of putting it into the purpose it was meant for, diverted and purchased exclusive properties in the Federal Capital, Abuja.
This led the EFCC to invite him for questioning on 15th February, 2023 and he is being investigated since.
Meanwhile, people in Bauchi are hailing the EFCC for taking the bold step in appreheding suspected economic criminals no matter how highly placed.
Recall that the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing system for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) was launched in 2011 and incorporated in 2013 by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) as a dynamic, holistic USD500 Million public-private initiative to catalyse the flow of finance and investments into fixed agricultural value chains.
NIRSAL seeks to address the causes of low funding levels in the agriculture sector, including lack of understanding of the sector, perceived high risks, complex credit assessment processes/procedures, and high transaction costs.
Similarly, the Anchor Borrower Programme ABP was set up with the broad objective of creating economic linkages between smallholder farmers and processors with a view to increasing agricultural output and ensuring food price stability.
The specific objectives of the ABP include: increasing banks’ financing to improve agricultural productivity by creating an ecosystem that drives value chain financing; reducing the nation’s food import bill through import substitution and enhanced domestic value addition; creating new generation of farmers through innovative financing to support smart agriculture; and deepening financial inclusion and grow smallholder farmers from subsistence to commercial farming.
“For people like Nassar, who are obviously not into any form of agricultural venture to use the advantages of their family influence to acquire and divert the loan for personal ventures at the detriment of the Nigerian nation and the Scheme’s targeted beneficiaries, constitutes gross economic fraud that should be investigated and punished.
“The targeted beneficiaries of the ABP is meant to be smallholder farmers and medium to large scale farmers engaged in the production of agricultural commodities across the country, and of course Nassar and his ilk do not fall within this category, ” said a financial security expert who prefers anonymity for now.