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Nasarawa community protests demolition of FG sesame processing centre

Demolished newly Constructed Sesame Seed Processing Factory in Nasarawa State. Photo: Christ Nyamtu

Residents of the Shabu community in Nasarawa State have called on Governor Abdullahi Sule to immediately set up a high powered investigative panel to unravel circumstances surrounding the demolition of a Multi-Million Naira Sesame Seed Processing Factory newly established by the federal government in the area, with a view to bringing perpetrators of the act to book.

Tension and agitations have continued to rise in Shabu, the headquarters of Lafia North Development Area of Lafia Local Government in Nasarawa State following the demolition of a Multi-Million Naira Model Sesame Seed Processing Centre established in the area under the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

When Radio Nigeria visited the project site in Shabu, a suburb of Lafia the Nasarawa State capital, some of the factory equipment including a giant electricity power generating set installed in the Sesame processing plant could be seen amidst the rubbles of the demolished building.

While a signboard bearing details of the contract description by the Federal Government of Nigeria was conspicuously seen beside the demolished plant.

In an interview, Nasarawa State Coordinator, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Ikechukwu Ofomata explained that given the large quantity of Sesame seed production in Nasarawa State, the processing factory was established in the area as part of the Federal Government’s drive towards Value Chain addition to locally produced crops and rural development.

He stated that the plant which is worth about two hundred million Naira had the capacity to employ over one thousand personnel in the first instance, was never marked for demolition by any authority from beginning to completion of the project.

While expressing concern over the safety of the equipment, Dr Ofomata pointed out that since the plant was demolished a day after handing over to the ministry by the contractor in March 2021, no effort had been made by the state government to rebuild another one.

He said ” I received a distress call early in the morning on 4th March 2021 that the Sesame Seed Processing Centre has been demolished by Nasarawa State Urban Development Board in the night after the ministry had issued a certificate of job satisfaction to the contractor on March 2021 “

Demolished newly Constructed Sesame Seed Processing Factory in Nasarawa State. Photo: Christ Nyamtu

A prominent traditional title holder in the area, the Makongijin Shabu, Mallam Almuhammad Ubabu said they were yet to come to terms with the reality behind the demolition of the Sesame Seed Processing Factory considering the enormous benefits it would have brought to the community and the state in general.

Also, President, Shabu Youth Movement, Mohammed Shuaibu Madaki expressed displeasure with the delay in taking action to rebuild the plant since the visit by some state government officials led by Secretary to Nasarawa State Government to the project site.

Muhammed Shuaibu said ” We wanted to raise agitations and protest but the Emir and some state government officials led by Secretary to Nasarawa State Government who were at the site calmed us down.”

” The SSG in his words said this is a fight between Government and Government so we should leave it to them to sort it out. Since then, no efforts have been made to rebuild the plant.”

” I know the importance of a Sesame Seed factory in creating job opportunities. They can calm us down but we will not remain silent forever!”

When Radio Nigeria visited the Nasarawa State Urban Development Board, the agency that was allegedly engaged to carry out the demolition of the Sesame Seed Processing Centre for their own side of the story, the Managing Director, Alhaji Yahaya Mohammed Wada confirmed the board’s participation in the action.

He stated the federal government did not obtain approval from the board before embarking on the project.

Alhaji Wada however called on federal government agencies in the state to ensure stronger synergy with the state government to avoid unnecessary contradictions.

Meanwhile, efforts to reach the Secretary to Nasarawa State Government, Alhaji Mohammed Ubandoma to comment on the matter was unsuccessful due to his failure to respond to calls and text messages sent to his telephone line.

Reporting by Chris Nyamtu; Editing by Abdullahi Lamino