Determined to frustrate the efforts of unscrupulous elements who are out to sabotage the Federal Government’s policy local production of agro inputs, the Nigerian Police, Niger State Command, has arrested a man who specialized in adulterating Nigerian-made fertilizers in the state.
The suspect, identified as Alhaji Maikudi, was arrested following intelligence reports of his clandestine activities in his factory, called Farm Centre, located in the Minna metropolis, where he allegedly adulterated TAK Agro brand of NPK fertilizers.
A total of 445 bags of adulterated fertilizer were allegedly found in the factory, stacked and ready for shipment to unsuspecting farmers.
According to our source from Morris Nigeria Limited, blending plant for TAK Agro fertilizers in Minna, the company had got information about two weeks ago from members of the public that some people were allegedly adulterating TAK fertilizers in the state and a dragnet was laid to identify and track such people.
Said the source, who craved anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the story: “On Friday evening, the 22nd of May, 2020, one of our employees saw a bus loaded with products that looked like TAK Agro brand of fertilizers and immediately became suspicious. He thus accosted the bus driver, who allegedly told him he was coming from a company he called Farm Centre in Minna and was billed to deliver the consignment in Bida, another major town in Niger State.”
Continuing, he revealed that he took the bold step to examine the bags of fertilizer and immediately suspected there was something wrong with their look and feel.
“I looked at the bags and immediately noted the difference between what they had in that truck and our own original bags and that was when I called the police,” he said.
Acting on this intelligence, the police swung into action, impounding the vehicle and taking it to the Kpakungu Police Division in Barkin Sale area of the state capital.
The police commenced investigations immediately, visiting the alleged site of the counterfeiting which they initially found locked, but were able to unravel the identity of the owner and prime suspect as one Alhaji Maikudi.
Further investigation revealed the modus operandi of the counterfeit ring. Alhaji Maikudi. Allegedly masked his nefarious activities by duly registering with TAK Continental as an agro dealer.
Fertilizer producers do not sell directly to consumers but pass through a network of duly registered middle men known in the industry as agro dealers, who help break the bulk and sell to retailer and end users.
By registering as a dealer, Alhaji Maikudi created a cover for his activities, allegedly printing fake TAK Agro’s fertilizer bags to deceive unsuspecting members of the public.
It was further discovered that Alhaji Maikudi filled his adulterated fertilizers with sawdust and other fake material and then sells to end users at significantly lower rates than the pricing regime approved by the federal government under the Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI).
When reached for comments on the development, a senior executive at TAK Group who did not want to be named because the matter was still under police investigation, described the activities of counterfeiters as acts of economic sabotage that should not be tolerated.
He thanked the Nigerian Police for its swift response that resulted in the arrest of the prime suspect and called on all Nigerians, especially those in the agriculture ecosystem to be vigilant so as to stop the unscrupulous individuals who are determined to frustrate government’s efforts at growing the Nigerian agriculture industry and multiplying the fortune of our farmers.
“It is heartbreaking that a Nigerian that is aware of the Federal Government’s efforts at food security is working this hard to dilute the growing confidence our farmers have developed for indigenous fertilizers. You can imagine what the implication would be if that those fake fertilizers get to farmers and either leads to crop losses or very low yields. You can imagine the impression of such farmers about our indigenous fertilizer blends. I therefore see this as not just an attack on our brand that we have spent so much to build over many; it is also an attack on this country and what is presently our aspirations in agricultural development and food security. I thank the Nigerian police for the prompt and timely intervention even as the investigations continue. We need to know how many of these products he had shipped to farmers and if we can identify the buyers, it will not be out of place to compel him to make refunds to the people he had so deceived. I have every confidence that the Nigerian police are capable of doing all it takes,” he stated.
When contacted, Police Public Relations Officer, Niger State Command, Mr Wasiu Abiodun said he was unaware of the incident and promises to revert to the reporter but was unable to return the calls as at the time of filing this report.
Further calls to the Divisional Police Officer for the Officer for Kpakungu Police Division, Mr. Umar Dakingari Mohammed as well as the officer in charge of the State Police Criminal Investigations Department, one Mr Yau Tahir, a Deputy Commissioner of Police did not also yield any confirmation of the incident.