Home Business Agric N100b agro project: LP asks antigraft agencies to investigate Enugu govt deal with Pragmatic Farms

N100b agro project: LP asks antigraft agencies to investigate Enugu govt deal with Pragmatic Farms

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The Enugu State chapter of the Labour Party (LP) has called on Nigeria’s anticorruption agencies to investigate the agriculture partnership agreement recently signed between the Enugu State Government and Pragmatic Farms Limited alleging that the transaction might be a conduit to siphon the resources of the state.

In a statement by its Chairman, Comrade Casmir Uchenna Agbo; and Publicity Secretary, Onuora Odo, the party questioned the propriety of the transaction, pointing out that the company in question was allegedly registered only four days before it signed the agreement with the Enugu government.

The Enugu State Government had issued a statement that the partnership with Pragmatic Farms Limited was in line with the objectives of the Peter Mbah administration to revive and convert the state’s dormant assets to productive assets, as part of plans to grow the state’s economy exponentially from $4.4 billion to $30 billion per annum.

But in its statement, LP accused the government of planning to use the newly registered company as a conduit to siphon the resources of the state, saying that there was no indication that the company has the track record and capacity to manage the enterprise.

“We are raising this alarm because the entire project smells of large-scale fraud and as a responsible and responsive political party, we owe it to the people of the state, the duty of drawing their attention to what we see as economic rape and corrupt tendencies. Checks at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) have created a cloud of suspicion around the project, following our discovery that Pragmatic Palms Limited was registered only on 6 May 2024, four days before the partnership agreement was signed with the Enugu State Government on 10 May 2024″, the statement said.

LP demanded that the state governor should tell the people when discussions on this partnership began and how he concluded and sign the deal within four days of incorporating the company.

“It is important to also draw the attention of the people of Enugu State, the Federal Government of Nigeria, and the anticorruption agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to what looks like a grand plan to divert the resources of Enugu State through what looks like a conduit. We say this because further checks reveal that Pragmatic Palms Limited was referenced in the news items as a subsidiary of another company known as Diamond Stripes Limited, a business owned by one Prof George Nwangwu and his wife. How the Enugu State Government decided to trust N100 billion belonging to the over-taxed and deprived people of the state to a glorified sole proprietorship is something that has to be explained”, the statement continued

The statement further read: “Diamond Stripes Limited, it is also worth highlighting, started business in 2013 and has its capacities in the area of hydroelectric generation and port management. Nowhere, on its website was its capacity for agriculture and agro-processing mentioned. More worrisome is the fact that the owner of the company, Prof. George Nwangwu has no known track record in agriculture and related areas. We even went further to explore the search engine and the George Nwangwu we were able to find is a Professor of Law and has never been involved in anything relating to agriculture before the N100 billion deal he reached with the Government of Enugu State.

“We are worried because a lot of things in the transaction do not appear straightforward. First, by sheer stroke of coincidence, Pragmatic Palms Limited’s registered office located at 5 Kokoma Close, Wuse II, Abuja, appeared in our search to be the same as that of a Law firm, Ratio Legal Practitioners LLP, which also processed the registration of Pragmatic Palms Limited.

“It is also worrisome that although Pragmatic Palms Limited was mentioned in the press release as a subsidiary of Diamond Stripes Limited, there was no indication that Diamond Stripes is a shareholder in Pragmatic Palms Limited. The only shareholder that was returned in the search is a certain George Nwangwu, who curiously owns the entire one million shares of the company.

“We are also worried that while on its website, Diamond Stripes Limited claimed it was in the business of electricity generation, ports services and the building of silos, data on its registration documents at the Corporate Affairs Commission indicated that it was registered ‘to carry on the business of the manufacturer, importation, exportation, distribution, promotion, sales, supply and marketing of all types of products, materials, agents, reagents and equipment. to engage in the business of real estate and property’. The suspicion heightens given that the CAC no longer permits the registration and operation of omnibus businesses in Nigeria.

“We are therefore calling on the good people of Enugu State to be vigilant. We also invite the anticorruption agencies to investigate this transaction with a view to saving the people of Enugu State from what looks like a bogus transaction designed to facilitate the diversion of money belonging to the people”.

Although it welcomed efforts at reviving moribund state government-owned projects, the party lamented what it said was the “crushing tax siege” on the state and called for judicious use of the resource

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