DSS arrests ex-NIRSAL CEO, Aliyu Abdlhameed, over multi-billion fraud

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The Department of State Service (DSS) has arrested the embattled former Managing Director of the Nigeria Incentive-Based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending (NIRSAL), Aliyu Abdlhameed, almost a year after his unceremonious removal for alleged N5.6Bn Wheat Project Scam.

NIRSAL, a $500m non-bank financial institution, is a creation of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) mandated to manage agribusiness-related credit risks in Nigeria.

Abdulhameed was sacked following allegations of corruption, including a 2018 N5.6 billion wheat project meant for farmers in Kano and Jigawa States.

His sack was endorsed by the Board of the CBN following approval from the Presidency in December last year.

He was recently apprehended on the premises of a federal government’s revenue-generating agency in Abuja where he had reportedly gone to lobby for a reappointment.
Multiple sources within and outside the NIRSAL revealed that the arrest of the ex-NIRSAL boss came after five months of a manhunt by a joint team of the Department State Services, the Nigeria Police Force and the Special Investigator.

Findings indicate that the embattled ex-NIRSAL boss, who is said to be in the custody of the DSS, is being quizzed on multiple allegations of corruption during his tenure.

A source at the NIRSAL confided in Daily Trust that the investigators were also seeking answers based on findings contained in an investigation earlier conducted by a team from the CBN following a petition against the NIRSAL on alleged fraud, money laundering and criminal conspiracy.

It was gathered that following the investigation, the Banking Supervision Department of the CBN wrote to the ex-NIRSAL boss seeking explanation to “observed breaches of internal policies and procedures of the organisation, relevant regulations and laws, especially the Public Procurement Act 2007.”

Findings by Daily Trust indicate that a query on the breaches was conveyed in a letter referenced: BSD/SPG/CON/NIR/13/083 titled: ‘On a spot check on the operation of NIRSAL conducted between August 27, 2020 and September 11, 2020.’

Sources also revealed that 32 official vehicles were discovered to have been diverted to personal use by the former NIRSAL MD during his tenure.

A staff member of the NIRSAL familiar with the development disclosed that only two of the vehicles had been retrieved by security operatives and returned to the organisation following his arrest. He said it was discovered that 21 of the diverted vehicles were purchased with official funds as auction in the name of some staff of the NIRSAL without their knowledge, but were converted personal use by the former MD.

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