AFEX Commodities Exchange Limited has said it is confident that justice will be served on the Nigerian police for forcefully breaking into its warehouse and carrying away a large quantity of grains worth N85 million.
In a statement,Ayodeji Balogun, the country manager of AFEX , said while the case remains in court, the company is confident that justice will be served on the police who carried out the unlawful act.
AFEX Nigeria had earlier protested when the police forcefully broke into their Zaria warehouse on July 8, 2017, and seized 5,571 bags of dry maize, weighing 100 kilograms each and valued at N85 million.
Also, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development had earlier condemned the raid,and said in a statement “The raid on AFEX warehouse by alleged policemen is an attack on our efforts at driving agriculture to attain food sufficiency We condemn it”
Afterwards, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), through the Head of Police Complaint Rapid Response Unit (PCRRU), ACP Abayomi Shogunle, invited the company to the Nigerian police force headquarters in Abuja to hear the merits of their claim.
“Despite a clear mismatch between the defendant in a case the NPF is currently investigating in Katsina State and AFEX Nigeria, whose signage is clearly displayed at the Zaria warehouse, the NPF maintains that it did not know that the warehouse they seized maize from belongs to AFEX,” the company said in a statement issued by Farhat Kunmi Olayiwola, its shared services analyst.
In response to allegations made by NPF in an article published August 13 in Daily Times and Premium Times, AFEX says it has now been presented to NPF all receipts and other relevant evidence of transactions through which the stock in its Zaria warehouse was purchased.
AFEX lamented in its statement that prior to the newspaper articles, NPF had not invited the company directly for interrogation or to present proof of ownership of the stock seized from them.
“This goes against the principle of fair-hearing which the NPF, as enforcers of the law, ought to have applied before opting for the option of seizing grains worth N85million in a 7-hour operation that involved the handcuffing of the company’s security staff, damaging of doors, and destruction of other bags of grains in the warehouse,” the statement read in part.
It further explained that when John Bandele, who is AFEX’s warehouse manager in Zaria, informed police officers during the raid that the last stock he received was from a grain-for-fertilizer swap contract conducted with smallholder farmers in Kidandan, a town about 35km from Zaria, he was rebuffed.
“Inspector Okolo responded to him that (the officers) were not grain experts and that their only mandate was to seize 5,571 bags of maize, period!”.
Thereafter, starting from those closest to the door of the warehouse, and stopping at a point in the middle of the warehouse where the dispatch activity had achieved the 5,571 bags they set out to lift, they indiscriminately went ahead with their raid.
However, according to Balogun, the AFEX boss, “commodity exchange warehouses are actually grain banks, and as the Nigerian market deepens its understanding of the operations of a commodities exchange, AFEX Nigeria believes that its warehouses will be treated with the sanctity deserving of banks.”