Agriculture ministry under probe

GASABO - The office of the Prosecutor General is investigating the Ministry Agriculture to find out whether some of its officers are involved in selling government subsidized fertilizers outside the country, Alphonse Hitiyaremye, the deputy Prosecutor General has said.
Minister of Agriculture Bazivamo.
Minister of Agriculture Bazivamo.

GASABO - The office of the Prosecutor General is investigating the Ministry Agriculture to find out whether some of its officers are involved in selling government subsidized fertilizers outside the country, Alphonse Hitiyaremye, the deputy Prosecutor General has said.

The investigation was triggered by the arrest of Straton Ndamage, a Kigali businessman, on the Rwanda- Burundi border in Bugesera with 50 tonnes of DAP fertilizer in two of his trucks.

“The investigations are still going on. After arresting Ndamage, we discovered that some other businessmen had also purchased fertilizers from the same ministry and sold them outside the country, Hitiyaremye told The New Times in his office yesterday.

“Fertilizers were imported by the government tax free to help farmers improve agriculture output in different areas of the country. It would therefore be unfair to sell the tax-exempted fertilizers to another country that is not covered by the exemption,” the official added.

He revealed that statements recorded from employees of the ministry indicate that some anomalies occurred in the purchase of the fertilizers.

He added that the prosecution is verifying whether there were no guidelines to be followed in selling the subsidized fertilizers since there must have been a policy before importing the fertilizers.

Straton Ndamage claims that the prosecution froze his assets in February this year, impounded his two trailers, cell phone, and confiscated 50 tonnes of the fertilizers he had purchased from Agriculture ministry.

“Thank God they have now given me access to my account. I simply didn’t have any business and life become meaningless to me,” Ndamage lamented.

In a letter dated 06/03/2008, which The New Times has attained, the city businessman wrote to the president of Gasabo District Court begging to have justice and get access to his wealth.

Ndamage had been accused of allegedly attempting to sell the subsidized fertilizers that he had fraudulently indicated he was taking to Nyaruguru District but instead was arrested taking it to Burundi. However the court ruled in favour of the accused.

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