About five senior officials in the Department of Farm Inputs Supports Services of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development were arrested by operatives of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission over alleged diversion of funds.
They were said to have been arrested around 9 am on Thursday in a sting operation which lasted for about one hour in their office at the 5th Floor, Bank of Agriculture Building, Central Business District in Garki, Abuja,
It was learnt that the ICPC detained four of the officials for five days before they were later released. The director among them was said to have been released on health grounds.
The PUNCH learnt that the arrest has created tension among the staff of FISS and other parastatals in the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.
A source said the investigation was connected with the diversion of funds meant for monitoring exercise and sensitisation programmes.
The situation was said to have hampered the monitoring and evaluation of farm inputs.
It was learnt that over N200m was found in the bank account of one of the officials being grilled, while over N100m was found in the bank account of one of his children.
Also, over N250m cash was found in the Abuja house of one of the suspects.
Investigation by the ICPC detectives revealed an inflow of over N60m in six months into the bank account of one of the suspects.
The ICPC has also seized landed properties, including a bakery and one herbal hospital.
When contacted, the spokesperson for ICPC, Azuka Ogugua, said the investigation was still on.
She said, “We don’t give updates on our cases to journalists. We don’t do media trials, that was why I didn’t respond (to your several enquiries. How do you now expect me to start disclosing to you? It doesn’t make sense. I can’t tell you; that is wrong, it’s unethical. How can I be telling you the outcome of our investigation?
“When the case goes to court, it will be in the public domain. There is nothing I can discuss, it will be tantamount to media trial.”