By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
ABUJA: A coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have called on the Inspector General of Police, Muhammed Adamu to commence investigation and invite for interrogation sponsors in the campaign of calumny against the Management of the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL PLC), under its Managing Director, Mr Aliyu Abbati Abdulhameed.
The Coalition spearheaded by the Civil Rights Advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) in a press briefing on Wednesday in Abuja, stressed that the sponsors of the campaign of falsehood and calumny must not be allowed to achieve their evil plans.
Speaking to Journalists, HURIWA Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, noted that NIRSAL PLC, an institution that is playing a key role in the transformation of Nigerian agriculture has been the subject of a vicious and sustained campaign of calumny over the past two years.
He revealed that the campaign, which has intensified in the last six months is being executed by faceless elements who hide behind compromised social media platforms to throw mud at the organization.
According to him, “Currently, they are using a compromised high profile “activist” online platform to launch personal attacks against the leadership of NIRSAL PLC. To achieve their nefarious objectives, they have forged fake documents, organised fake protests, sponsored fake farmers groups and induced unprofessional media platforms which lack integrity to publish unverified falsehoods against the institution.
“They have also tried to instigate the security agencies through baseless unsubstantiated reports based on the same fake allegations which they have sponsored in the social media. The allegations have ranged from mismanagement of funds by its current leadership to claims of discrimination and favouritism.
“Significantly, despite the media campaign and reports made to the security agencies, no evidence of impropriety has been found”.
Onwubiko explained that the Coalition of Civil Society organizations are very concerned about the ongoing campaign against NIRSAL PLC for a number of reasons; “First, the efforts to distract and even disable NIRSAL PLC is not in the interest of the nation because this 5-year-old institution’s mandate as given to it by the Central Bank of Nigeria, its sole shareholder, is central to the focus on agriculture by the Buhari administration, the sector that is the number one employer of labour and the lynchpin of the nation’s plans for a post-oil future.
“Second, there is clear evidence that NIRSAL PLC is doing justice to its mandate. It is an established fact that the institution, in just a few short years of its corporate existence has facilitated about N110 billion from the financial sector into agriculture. Third, NIRSAL PLC is adding significant value in other areas, notably agricultural insurance where it is working with partners to create and popularize innovative insurance packages that will reduce the risks faced by Nigerian farmers and help them to benefit more from their toil.
“Fourthly and related to the above, the institution is making brisk progress with its AgroGeoCoops scheme which is projected to create about 16,000 farmer-cooperatives on 4 million hectares of farmland, enrol about 8 million farmers to produce about 12million metric tonnes of Grain Product Equivalent annually, across Nigeria”, he said.
He expressed shock that an institution as NIRSAL which he said has achieved solid results in a critical area of national development such as agriculture,can be subjected to endless attacks in pursuit of nefarious political goals and negative economic interests.
“NIRSAL PLC leadership deserves the gratitude and commendation of the nation, not constant attacks. In fact, from today we hereby undertake to advocate for NIRSAL PLC to earn the highest National Productivity Merit Award in Nigeria.
“We will thereby rise from this briefing by writing a petition to the Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu to call on him officially to investigate and invite the individuals behind these unrelenting tissues of lies and innuendos targeting the person of Mr Abdulhameed”, he added.
The Coalition made of 16 CSOs, also urged the Presidency not to be deceived by the campaign against the person of the MD of NIRSAL PLC, noting that those making the ‘baseless allegations’ are working hard to scuttle the government’s agenda for agriculture revolution.