We Will Soon Commence Legal Action Against Past Corrupt Officers- Kwara Govt

The Kwara State Government has reinstated his determination to prosecute past corrupt public officials found culpable in the illegal diversion of public funds and properties.

Addressing members of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Ilorin, on Tuesday, the state commissioner for Communications, Bode Towoju, said that the state was being painstaking in its actions to avoid losing any case in court.

“We are being circumspect in pressing our charges so that we will not lose on technical grounds in court, just like how the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) lost in a case regarding our property at AbdulRasak Street in the GRA, Ilorin.

“Many of those properties illegally sold to themselves were purchased in companies’ names and this is one of the reasons for losing that particular case.”

Talking on the seizure of Kwara State properties by AMCON over inability to offset loans accessed by past administrations in the name of funding Shonga Farm, Towoju said the state legal team is currently negotiating on how to retrieve the properties.

”The fact is that AMCON knew that Kwara State Government shares in Shonga farm is just 10 percent and how can 10% shareholder be the owner? but AMCON as a business people deliberately held the state responsible because they know that it is the only bigger body they can drag and get something from. Even the 105 shares they claim we have, the state never received a dime as dividends since they commenced operation.

“The worst part was that out of the 13 lands they used as collateral to access that loans, they later went back and sold nine again and siphoned the money. Out of the remaining three left, one is occupied by a Chicken company while another one is being occupied by a Zimbabwean who is leasing it out to Kwara northerners that are the rightful owners of the land.”

Meanwhile, the immediate past governor of Kwara State, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, has said that the claims that his and the Bukola Saraki administrations guaranteed bank loans for Shonga Farm Holdings (SFH) are uninformed and false, adding that, “We Didn’t Guarantee Loans for Shonga farms.”

In a statement by Wahab Oba, his media aide, Alhaji Ahmed, who was Commissioner of Finance when Shonga Farms was established and whose administration created Harmony Holdings Limited, SFH’s supervisory company, said Shonga Farms is a public-private partnership (PPP) funded under a debt-equity structure and owned by the state government, a consortium of banks and the Zimbabwean farmers.

The former governor maintained that the Kwara state government invested in the project through infrastructure for the farms and its communities such as roads, electricity, water and security infrastructure that are still intact.
SFH, he revealed, secured bank loans for expansion using its assets as collateral, adding that a state government can only guarantee a loan through its federal allocation, which was never pledged.

Dr Ahmed reiterated that not all businesses are thriving, stressing that while the poultry business remains viable, the diary syndicate stagnated when a global milk company cancelled its off-taker arrangement with SFH. The mixed crop section, he said, stalled due to irrigation problems as a result of the Federal Governnent’s renege on its promise to assist with irrigation.

Ex-governor Ahmed said some of the farms secured new investment to pay off their loans to the banks through SFH, which has paid over N600m out of an outstanding N900m to AMCON.

The former governor exonerated the previous two administrations of any wrongdoing in exploiting a business opportunity that attracted investments into the state, developed the local community and placed Kwara State on the global map.

According to Ahmed, SFH attracted foreign and local investments above 100 million USD and has created over 4,000 direct and indirect local jobs besides knowledge transfer to the local community.

He maintained that his and the Saraki administration followed due process in all transactions relating to SFH, a quality that earned the state government a high ranking from the global rating agency, Fitch.

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