Gov Lalong Fingered In Scandalous Sale Of State Owned BARC Farm
A group under the aegis of Concerned Plateau Indigene has accused the Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong and the former Managing Director of Plateau Investment and Development Company (PIPC) Mr Ezekiel Gommos of cover up in the sales of Brewery Agro and Research Company Ltd (BARC Farm).
Checks by our Correspondent revealed that Governor of Plateau State, Lalong was actively involved in the sales of a state owned Company, Brewery Agro and Research Company (BARC).
BARC Farm, was a subsidiary of Jos International Brewery which in the early 1990s was under the ownership of the Plateau State government created through Plateau Investment and Development Company Ltd (PIPC), also owned by state.
The company was alleged to have been sold to a company called ILHAMA Enterprises Nigeria Ltd in 1993, a company owned by the former Governor of Adamawa State, Admiral Nyako.
It was learnt that due to the very alleged dubious nature of the sale, the issue of the sale of BARC Farm continues to raise problems.
“One of the major problems is that to date, nobody has been held accountable for the amount the company was sold for and the nature of its receipt into the government.
“Several different figures have been discovered over the year’s since1993. During the sale, the MD of PIPC Ltd Ezekiel Gommos handled the process from the beginning. Being a very close friend of the Governor, he was later appointed the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) and continued to dodge the question of how much BARC Farm was sold for and what account the funds were paid into. He initially said the company had been sold for N19 million.
“Other documents quote him saying it was sold for N18 million. When questioned in future years, he said it was sold for N27 million.
Another answer he gave in subsequent years was that it was sold for N54 million. Documents exist for all these statements.
“It was also discovered that initially instead of receiving a payment from ILHAMA Ltd the buyer, the amount received was described as a loan of N17 million given to government and it is claimed that it was paid back to the buyer rather than retained as part payment for the company.
“At the time of sale, the 5,000 hectare land on which the company was built was valued at N2 million and the local original owners have expressed much distress at being cheated by the government. Their cry has never been heard due to constant manipulation of the facts”, it was learnt.
The source added further that, in 2015, Mr Ezekiel Gommos joined the new government of Plateau State at first without any official appointment, claimed to be the Chairman of PIPC Ltd, the company where he was once Managing Director during the BARC Farm sale transaction.
It should be noted that he worked there alongside the man that is now Governor Lalong.
During the Barc Farm transaction in 1993, Lalong was a barrister at PIPC so he was intricately involved in the process.
“Since 2015, Gomos has been aggressively offering to broker the reverse sale of BARC Farm from Admiral Nyako back to Plateau State Government first for the amount of N1.8 billion and in 2017 the value almost doubled to N3 billion all without ever fully disclosing the original sale price and where the money was paid. Nor ever showing how this astronomical buy back amount was reached.
“Yet they have commenced celebrations that N3 billion of the recent Paris Club refund, instead of being spent on public services and paying long suffering workers’ salaries, has been withdrawn and put aside to buy back Barc Farm”, he revealed.
“During previous governments, numerous questions have been asked about the whereabouts of the money transacted from 1993 to date.
“Under former Governor Joshua Dariye, an investigation committee was set up headed by the Special Adviser on Legal Matters. The committee discovered that indeed the money received from Admiral Nyako was not fully disclosed, nor was it paid into the government account. The committee paid a visit to Admiral Nyako, who said he paid N180 million in purchase of BARC Farm and he gave the payment to Mr Ezekiel Gommos, who was SSG at the time of sale”.
He said that despite paying in full, he was not given control of the company so in fear of losing his investment, he removed some assets from Barc Farm and tried to recover his loss.
“When the truth was uncovered and presented to Governor Dariye, mysteriously the committee’s final report never saw the light of day, much to the dismay of the committee members who had worked tirelessly to unraveling the mystery.
“While publicly, blame was heaped on the former Governor Tapgun, who in actual fact was not responsible for this debacle. He was also unaware that someone in government had orchestrated the entire scam.
“During those years, it was very obvious that Mr Ezekiel Gommos made a meteorically rise to wealth, culminating in him sending his entire family to live in the United States of America and living an extravagant lifestyle.
“He is also known to own large properties in the USA, in Abuja and in Jos, Plateau State including hotels and a business school which he sold to the former Governor Jang administration for an astronomical sum of around N350 million well above any reasonable value for a property of that size in Plateau State.
“In 2011, Sahara Reporters media reported on the sale of the BARC Farm and raised questions about why the mysterious sale still remains unresolved.
“More recently the 2017 declaration of the buying back of Barc Farm at N3 billion has been heralded by the ignorant as a great achievement.
People are actively discussing how the value can be justified, especially if one bears in mind that in 2016 EFCC seized all of Admiral Nyako’s properties. If this farm was sold to Admiral Nyako then there is no need to buy it back since the Federal Government will return it to Plateau state government.
“The federal authorities seem to be unaware while the latest fictitious sale is once again allowed to take place and the farm continues to be used as a mule”, the group alleged.