Former commissioner for agriculture in Rivers State, Hon. Emmanuel Chinda, yesterday failed to appear before the State Commission of Inquiry looking into the sale of valued assets of the state during the administration of former Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.
The commission, chaired by Justice George Omereji, had summoned Chinda to appear before it at its inaugural sitting to explain the distribution of over N2billion agricultural loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
This is as the permanent secretaries in the Ministries of Agriculture, and Commerce and Industry told the commission in Port Harcourt how former council chairmen diverted over N4billion CBN agricultural loan.
The lawyer to the commission, Dr. Zaccheus Adangor, while interrogating the permanent secretaries of the ministries, based on the memos they submitted to the commission, explained that the N4billion CBN loan meant to help develop agriculture in Rivers State was shared among 380 mother cooperatives which had the then serving council chairmen as their presidents.
Adangor said that 38 of the cooperatives lack official documentation with both the State Ministry of Commerce and Industry and that of Agriculture, adding that the loans which were converted to grants were disbursed without supervision.
He told the commission that following a memorandum of understanding submitted by the former commissioner of agriculture, Chinda, the former governor had on 25th January, 2015, approved the disbursement of N3billion CBN loan to farmers as grants.
According to him, regardless of the CBN guidelines which specified that the loan was meant for the development of agriculture in Rivers State, the funds were disbursed to the then council chairmen.
Adangor stated that the memo submitted to the commission by the permanent secretaries revealed that Asari Toru Cooperative Society which has former Asari Toru council chairman, Mr. Flag Ojukaye Amachree as its president was given N54,850,000 as grant.
He also said that the incumbent chairman of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni council, Augustine Ahiamadu on behalf of Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni cooperatives received the sum of N64,300,000.00.
The Port Harcourt Cooperative Society which had the former Port Harcourt city local government chairman, Nnamdi Uche as its president, received N134,625,000.00, and Omuda Integrated Fishing Cooperatives, whose president was identified as the then chairman of Ogu/Bolo, Mr. Mina Tende, received N32,175,000.00.