Adulterated fertiliser: Anti-graft agency destroys 681 bags in Gombe

By Rebecca Mu’azu, Gombe

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The Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Gombe says it has destroyed 681 bags of adulterated fertiliser in the state.

Shortly before the adulterated fertilisers were set ablaze, the new Northeast Zonal Head of the EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Shazali told journalists in Gombe that the destruction was carried out because adulteration of fertiliser was an act of economic sabotage, which hampered the efforts of the Nigerian Government in sustaining food security in the country.

Mr. Shazali said such acts, if allowed to continue, would affect incomes of peasant farmers, who might unknowingly buy the adulterated fertilisers and end up not getting the desired value for their money.

He said the confiscated product had the presidential fertiliser initiative inscriptions on the bags, which would easily deceive people believe that the fertiliser was from government.

“They (convicts) print the bags, bring small part of fertiliser and bring in some limestone gotten from Kankara Local Government Area of Katsina State, creating an impression that this is coming from the Nigerian government. This is exactly where the sabotage comes from. So, even if the fertilisers have government tag on them, there is need for farmers to make proper inquiries to ascertain their source,” the EFCC zonal boss said.

Mr. Shazali warned people engaging in the adulteration of fertiliser, saying the commission will apprehend anyone involved such conduct, because the anti-graft agency had strengthened its surveillance mechanism to ensure perpetrators were put out of business.

“We are still extending our investigations to Kano and Katsina states,” Mr. Shazali said.

He cautioned farmers to always engage relevant agencies, such as the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, for product certification, before buying fertilisers from the markets, especially when buying in large quantity.

The EFCC said eight perpetrators of the adulteration had been convicted, based on charges of buying genuine fertiliser from recognised companies like Indorama, Kasco, Tag Agro fertiliser, Albarka fertilizer, Nasara fertiliser, Golden fertiliser and Nigerian Government Fertiliser and mixed them with sand and sold them as genuine products to innocent farmers at same price, after they printed bags of original companies without authority.

It was established that the sand was almost more than two/third of the content of a particular bag, while the real fertiliser was not up to One/third in each bag

In the meantime, Mr. Mohammed Sani, who represented the State Coordinator of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria in Gombe State, Alhaji Umar Yakubu, said the organisation had collaborated with the SON in analysing the adulterated fertiliser, confirming it to be so.

“Last year around July, 2019, a letter was sent to our organisation from EFCC seeking for expert opinion about a vehicle suspected to be carrying adulterated fertiliser. So, according to the law, the EFCC has no right to know about the fertiliser, until they seek the expert view of relevant agency. That is why they need our collaboration. And it’s part of our mandate to elaborate what we call a standard. A standard is just a consensus agreement with stakeholders, manufacturers and our organisations. So, each organisation has a standard. That is why they seek our opinion to analyse the fertiliser, based on that standard.  We have done it and the result showed it is a fake, according to our analysis,” Mr Sani stated.

Mercy Chukwudiebere