Despite moves to improve his sliding campaign fortunes, President Goodluck Jonathan is battling to explain all he knows about a multi- billion dollar farm which a non – governmental organisation (NGO) says belongs to him in alleged violation of the 1999 Constitution.
But a pro-Jonathan group, New Generation Coalition says the constitution allows a public officer to engage in farming. It also alleged that ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo also benefited from Abuja-Land -For-Farms grab while in office
to engage in farming.
According to an NGO , Purpose Driven Initiative (PDI), the farm was incorporated on December 30, 2011 barely seven months after he was sworn in as president for his current tenure which he wants Nigerians to renew.
The farm is about 94,04 hectare plot of land along the highway leading to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
The group said in adverts in some papers last Friday : “ Let us talk about corruption. This is how the Nigerian government conducts business and fights corruption.
“A sitting President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, incorporated a company, Ebele Integrated Farms Limited in which he is a major shareholder on December 30, 2011.
“Ebele Integrated Farms Limited applied for and was granted 94.04 hectare plot of land, 1689 in Cadastral Zone EOS Aviation Village, Abuja on January 13, 2014.
“Under the Fifth Schedule Part 1( Code of Conduct for Public Officers) of the 1999 Constitution, Section 1, ‘a public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities.’
“Do we need any more evidence of how the Jonathan administration has been fighting or will fight corruption.”
Investigation revealed that crocodiles are some of the livestocks being reared at the aquatic farm.
A source said: “The farm house sits on a hill top overlooking the airport at the nation’s capital with rest chalets and presidential conference rooms.
“I think the farm may worth about $500m when completed. It is believed to being managed by some Israeli experts. As part of the plans, a helipad may be established on the farm, which may be solely export-oriented.”
The whistle-blowing group also alleged that the Minister of FCT, Mallam Bala Mohammed, has abused his office and violated the 1999 Constitution by incorporating Bird Trust Agro-Allied Limited on May 31, 2012.
“The company, Bird Trust Agro-Allied Limited then applied for and was given(by the same FCT that the major shareholder, Bala Mohammed, heads) a 40.4 hectares, plot 1683 in Cadastral Zone E05 of Aviation Village in Abuja on April 11, 2014,”the group said.
Rising in defence of the President and the minister, the pro- government coalition said Obasanjo enjoyed the same perks while in office.
It said: “Is it corruption?As a sitting President, Olusegun Obasanjo incorporated a company, Obasanjo Farms Nigeria
Limited. Obasanjo Farms Nigeria Limited applied for and was granted a 100.12 hectares of land, Plot No.1 Cadastral Zone E09 Kuje, Abuja on June 27, 2005.
“The sitting Minister if FCT, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai(now APC chieftain) allocated the land and signed Certificate of Occupancy no. 17c2w-1b99z-9d15r-cb2au-34u3 certified to Obasanjo Farms Nigeria Limited on July 24. 2006.
“Just like Obasanjo Farms Nigeria Limited, Ebele Farms and Bird Trust Agro Limited are companies in which the sponsors engage in farming and other allied agriculture production and processes.
“Under the Fifth Schedule Part 1 Code of Conduct for Public Officers of the 1999 Constitution, Section 1 states that ‘a public officer shall not put himself in a position where his personal interest conflicts with his duties and responsibilities.’
“Section 2 states that without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing paragraph …, nothing in this sub-paragraph shall prevent a public officer from engaging in farming.
“Is it corruption for a public officer to engage in farming as stipulated by the Nigerian Constitution of 1999 with the view to making Nigeria self-reliant in food production?”
Findings confirmed that the presidency
has decided to go for broke against Obasanjo for allegedly claiming that Jonathan is corrupt.
A presidency source said: “Let them reveal more, we will also expose more. Whoever lives in a glass house must not throw stones.
“The battle line is drawn, no one can rubbish or stain President Goodluck Jonathan. We have records of personal demands by these so-called anti-corruption saints in the country.”
It is not clear why the coalition dragged Obasanjo’s name into the allegation by the NGO.
On Friday , Jonathan declared that Obasanjo was still his godfather, notwithstanding the ex- president’s resignation from the peoples Democratic Party.