140 varsity students lose money to fake scholarship scheme

Posted by News Express | 22 August 2019 | 916 times

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Hopes of scholarship for over 140 students of the Federal University, Oye-Ekiti (FUOYE), may have been dashed more than a year after they staked N2,000 each to access a scholarship fund.

The purported scholarship is courtesy of JK Consulting Nigeria Limited, a consulting firm that served as an intermediary to a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Fortress of Hope Foundation, which initiated the Educational Youth Development Fund scholarship valued at N15,000 and above.

Findings by CAMPUSLIFE revealed that in July, last year, one Mr Benjamin, representing JK Consulting firm in Lagos, encouraged students to apply for the scholarship via e-passport with the hope of getting at least N15,000 as scholarship package. Potential beneficiaries of the scheme, about 140 students, were asked to pay N2,000 for do e-passport, a prerequisite for participating in the scheme.

Online checks revealed that Fortress of Hope Foundation does not have a website, but a Facebook page. After a thorough check on its Facebook profile, it was discovered that the foundation is not registered at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

Further investigation showed that one Reverend K C Williams of Pastor of Christ House Church, in Oye-Ekiti, introduced the scholarship scheme to his church members and FUOYE students. Interested participants were asked to payN2,000 for e-passport as a pre-condition for becoming beneficiaries.

However, more than a year later, students, who met the conditions and participated in the scheme, are yet to get a feedback from the organisation, or a refund of their money.

Some of them have expressed their disappointment.

A 300-Level History and International Studies student, Pastor Ooss Omobolaji Israel, recounted how Rev Williams introduced him to the scholarship scheme and collected N2,000 for electronic passport from 30 other students. Israel, who also doubles as the president of the university’s campus fellowship, said he later introduced the scheme to others.

“Sometime last year, a certain man of God told me about an opportunity that was available through a certain non-governmental organisation called Fortress of Hope Foundation,” Israel began.

He continued: “He told me they have a certain programme of giving scholarship to students in all campuses in Nigeria.

“He (Williams) said we only needed a paltry N2,000 for e-passport, which, according to him, is big enough.  He said the NGO intends giving scholarship valued at between N15,000 upward, but we don’t need to pay for any registration or whatsoever. All we need do is pick the form and register.

"We were told part of the things we needed to present for the registration is an e-passport. In FUOYE, we don’t use e-passport, but the cleric told us that is the condition in other campuses. So, he advised that each of us could contribute N2,000 with which he would process the e-passport and submit the forms on our behalf in Lagos, thereby saving all of us the stress of having to travel to Lagos to submit individually.”

Israel also lamented how he used his influence as the campus fellowship president to persuade 30 other members of the fellowship to opt for the scholarship scheme.

“What I want is that since the scholarship programme is not working, he (Williams) should simply give us the electronic passport or return our money,” he added.

Another student, Emmanuel Animasahun, a 200-Level Educational Management undergraduate, narrated how he parted with N2,000 together with four other friends to get the electronic passport.

“According to what we heard, the scheme is a Federal Government initiative that was being undertaken by an organisation. They came to FUOYE through Pastor KC Williams, so we all registered when we heard about it. The programme is for undergraduates. We were supposed to get N15,000.00 or N30,000.00 as education support from the programme. To be a beneficiary, we were asked to pay N2,000 for an e-passport, which we did; but for over a year now we have not heard anything,” he said.

Gift Moore, a 300-Level undergraduate from the Department English and Literary Studies, narrated how she borrowed money from a friend to register for the scholarship.

She said: “An organisation came to FUOYE sometime ago and promised us scholarship if we could provide an e-passport. That inspired my interest and I just did everything to ensure I participated. We were asked to pay N2,000 to get the passport and other things.

“Though I was interested, I had no money. I had to approach friends, who lent me N2000. It was something I didn’t actually plan for. I just had to raise the money as the form would be closing the next day.

“Later on I kept following the (Fortress of Hope) Foundation. I went to Pastor (KC) Williams to register as he was the one that introduced most churches into it because churches around here knew little or nothing about it.

“We went there (Pastor KC’s church) for the registration. We were told the vehicle of the organisation got spoilt so they were unable to come to the venue. None of us met any official of the organisation. So, we could only do the registration in the church. We were then asked to come back the following day to meet the officials of the foundation. We went back there the next day but we didn’t see anybody.”

“Now I’m just wondering what is going on. Is it that the organisation was a fraud? I think a responsible organisation shouldn’t do such. You don’t just come out and proclaim what you can’t do.”

Another victim, Anebi Veronica from the Department of History and International Studies, narrated how she collected money from her mum to register.‘

“I participated in the scholarship. I actually heard from a close friend, who happened to be the pastor of our campus fellowship,” Anebi said.

“I trusted him and my trust became stronger after he told me the instruction was from Pastor Williams. Since it had something to do with the church, I was very hopeful that something good would come out of it.

“So when he told me the cost of registration was N2,000, I just called my mummy and explained everything to her. Mum promised to get back to me and within two days she sent me the cash. Other participants and I quickly rushed to the church because it was on a Sunday. From there we went to Pastor KC’s church at Civic Centre, Oye-Ekiti, where we all did the registration. Since that time, there has not been any feedback, nothing like a message or mail up till now,” he said.

Corroborating Anebi, Mary from the same department, expressed how difficult it was for her to raise the N2000 cash. “After we were told to pay N2,000 for e-passport, I went online to find out more about the e-passport. So, I discovered that it will be useful for me later even if the scholarship stuff didn’t work out, I can still have my e-passport.”

“That was how I paid the money which wasn’t convenient for me at the time. So, I just felt I had to do it because that stuff (e-passport) will be useful for me later in future.”

Williams owns up

When contacted, Rev Williams confirmed that he instructed students to register for the scholarship scheme.

He said part of the requirements was the electronic passport, which was a pre-condition for registration.

He revealed that one Mr Benjamin from Fortress of Hope Educational and Youth Development Foundation introduced him to the scholarship scheme meant to benefit Christian students.

“He asked me to get people that could do electronic passport. I made calls to Lagos and I was told it would cost N5,000. I was like students cannot afford that money. Later, he (Benjamin) then introduced one Mr Abubakar Shuaibu that would undertake the e-passport for N2,000.

Out of the N2000, Williams said he paid N1,700 to Shuaibu for the e-passport; another N100 for physical passport of each applicant, while his aides who helped him to coordinate the process collected the outstanding.

“I paid the first part of the money about 120,000 to the man’s (Shuaibu’s) account. The second part was the balance of N87,000, which I also paid into his account. About 140 students registered for the stuff. We have made calls and we have not gotten feedback,” Williams said apologetically.

He continued: “He, himself (Mr Benjamin) introduced me to this and gave me an address in Ikorodu opposite LASPOTECH (Lagos State Polytechnic). I went there and realised the office was non-existent. I couldn’t even locate the building.

“I asked for JK Consulting from people around the area, but I was told nothing like that existed there. I called him (Benjamin) and he was not picking my call. He has not been responding to my WhatsApp chats since then. He told me he has been sacked.

“That guy sounded very convincing and intelligent to me that I didn’t even entertain any iota of suspicion. He still posts on WhatsApp and I usually view his status,” he added.

When CAMPUSLIFE contacted Benjamin, he made it clear he no longer works with the firm. Nonetheless, Benjamin insisted the firm is JK Consulting Nig Ltd, adding that it is located in Lagos.

“I don’t work in that firm again and I made this clear to the participants,” said Benjamin.

“I didn’t know the person (referring to Williams), who introduced students and other members to apply for programme. I never knew him from Adam. I got his status on social media, and I just liked him. He told me about the pressure he has been facing from students and I promised to look for a way to pay him back for the loss or financial inconveniences.”

However, when Benjamin was asked who his boss was, he kept mute.

Meanwhile, Mr Shuaibu, who was paid to produce the electronic passport, also refused to open up when CAMPUSLIFE contacted him. Several attempts to reach him again on phone or via text messages proved abortive.

Firm reacts

CAMPUSLIFE investigation has shown that JK. Consulting is a registered private company in Nigeria under the Companies and Allied Matters Act 1990, with registration number 627261.

The company is engaged in the provision of high quality professional consulting services backed up with a wide spectrum of experienced professionals.

However, when the firm’s head office located in Abuja was contacted, its Manager Mr. Yomi Adetila, refuted all allegations and distanced the company from the purported scholarship scheme.

“No, it’s not us. I don’t know about any Fortress of Hope Foundation. Please, it’s not us. Send me the details so we can get to the root,” Adetila said.

We are not aware, says FUOYE mgt.

The university’s chief security officer (CSO) and the public relations officer (PRO) Messrs Paul Ogidi, and Godfery Bakji, both denied ever being aware of the scholarship scheme.

Similarly, in a WhatsApp message sent to CAMPUSLIFE, Dean of Students’ Affairs Dr Dosu Malomo, corroborated the duo. Nonetheless, Malomo said the authority would be willing to lend the affected students a helping hand provided they could lodge official complaints.

“As at now, we have no information (regarding the scheme), but we can investigate if the students can come individually to make complaints,” Malomo stated in the text.

And until the school authority wades into the matter, the hope of over 140 students retrieving their N2000, or accessing the scholarships, still hangs in the balance.

•This piece by FUOYE student Ajala Samuel Akindele originally appeared in today’s edition of The Nation under a different headline.

Source: News Express

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