The Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL) says it has uncovered an ongoing scheme by corrupt interests to discredit the work of the agency using sponsored thugs and miscreants to stage protests around its offices.

Ms Anne Ihugba, NIRSAL’s Head of Corporate Communications, who disclosed the shocking find, said the campaign of calumny is orchestrated by the elements poised to discredit the successful agricultural reforms initiated by the President Mohammadu Buhari administration.

She said the miscreants who appeared dirty and unkept surprisingly displayed colourful placards inscribed with unsubstantiated and discredited allegations against NIRSAL, NIRSAL’s Managing Director and the Central Bank of Nigeria.

She highlighted some of the dubious claims on some the placards which read:

CBN’s Anchor Borrowers Programme of “diverting farmers money” and “killing farmers” describing it as a totally baseless claim.

Engaged by staff, she said the protesters admitted being hired to carry out.

“They also admitted that they have no information about NIRSAL’s operations, the Anchor Borrowers Programme and the Central Bank.

Ms Ihugba described the sponsored protest as a failed attempt to distort the facts about verified contributions of NIRSAL such as over N100 billion facilitated from the financial sector into the agricultural sector which is improving the lives of farmers across the country.

“Though NIRSAL found the inauspicious visit as an opportunity to engage and enlighten more young people on its agribusiness initiatives and the promise they hold, the protest smacked of witch-hunting and a well-crafted agenda to smear the organization.

”Questioned individually, the boys admitted to belonging to no ABP tickets and were in fact recruited from Abuja and environs, particularly from areas such as Mararaba, Mabushi and Jabi. This negates the claim that they are farmers from Kebbi State.

“To be absolutely clear, all successful ABP applications for the 2019 farming seasons have been honoured by NIRSAL. As required by the guidelines issued by the Central Bank, farmers with incomplete loan documentations are prevented from accessing the funds in their accounts until they meet the obligations.” she said adding the smear campaign will fail.

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