By Chris Udochukwu
Abuja (Precise Post) – The 2018 Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development contractors Thursday besieged the main entrance of the Federal Ministry of Finance over alleged diversion of N16billon naira meant to pay the contractors for executed jobs.
The contractors who carried placards with different inscriptions said they are at Finance Ministry to prevail on the Ministry of Agriculture to pay them for the contract executed since 2018 failing which the will launch a simultaneous occupation of both the ministry of Finance and Agriculture on a full protest until their demands are met.
The Coordinator of the group. Mr. Emeka
Ibekwe while addressing the newsmen on the sideline said: “We are 2018 Federal Ministry of Agric contractors and we did work for Agric
since 2018 and up till now we have not been paid.
‘Recently we discovered that in ministry of Agric, the money that was supposed to be for our payment were warehoused by ministry of Agric and a lot of aggrieved contractors of Ministry of Agriculture reported the matter to Independent Corrupt Practoced Commission. The ICPC waded into the matter and recovered Sixteen billion Naira (N16bn) from individual accounts.
Then this money that was recovered, because we met with the Permanent Secretary, we agreed that he will pay us with the money but recently we discovered that he is planning to return the money to the government account with the intention that if he returns the money to government he will have 10% reward and he now mopped up N1billion as unspent
fund in order to cover the N16billion recovered from ICPC making it N17billion, Ibekwe alleged.
“So he is planning to return N17billion to government and leaving our contract
payment unpaid. So we are resisting him, we said you cannot owe us for 3 years and there is N17billion and our debt is N15billion, you want to return N17billion, there is no logic that will cover that. The group therefore called on the Ministry of Finance to come to its aid and talk to the Permanent Secretary of Agric and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development
so that this money that was recovered from individual accounts for our payments
should be released to us. so we can carry on with our lives and business. That is
why we are here to call the attention of the Minister of Finance to intervene, Ibekwe added.
The group said it is incomprehensible how a Ministry owing contractors to the tune of N16bn return money back to the government coffers. Adding that all it can understand is that the head of Agriculture Ministry wants to collect percentage.
The group vowed that they will noccupy Ministry of Agric with their family and remain there until they are paid. It added that this administration is insensitive to our plight. They don’t care what happens to us because they are
siphoning money. The group therefore called on the ministry of Finance and Federal Government
to prevail in the Ministry of Agric to pay them their money.
“This is a warning protest that we are staging today, if our demands are not met we
will come back in full force. We will occupy Ministry of Agric as well as Ministry
of Finance. We are not a slave in our country and we need to foot our bills.
When asked if they have contacted the Ministry of Agric and what their position is, the Coordinator of the group said that they should give them some time. But you know that at the end of every year, funds are being mopped up, so they are trying to buy time so that they will be able to mop up these monies in the name of that year has ended and we don’t want ton give them that opportunity.
According to the Coordinator, Even National Assembly has rejected their plan to return the money to government account when they have debt unpaid. We have National Assembly and they intervened on the matter, we have written to NCF and they intervened on the matter but since this money was recovered, they have not intervened that is why we are calling on them to wade into the matter so that this recovered money will be utilized for the purpose it is meant.