Kwara Bursary Scam: Witness didn’t see beneficiaries’ list

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The trial in the alleged mismanagement of scholarship funds to the tune of N100 million involving the immediate past chairperson of Kwara State Scholarship Board, Hajia Fatimoh Yusuf and two other principal officers of the Board resumed on Tuesday, January 26, 2021.

The trial had in attendance a prosecution witness, Lawal Abdulwahab, who told Justice Sikiru Oyinloye of the Kwara State High Court sitting in Ilorin that, he never saw the list of the beneficiaries of the 2018 bursary allowances.

The Ilorin Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is prosecuting Hajia Yusuf, alongside the Executive Secretary of the Board, Fatai Lamidi and its Accountant, Ajewole Stephen, on a seven-count charge bordering on stealing and fraudulent diversion of public funds.

The three officers of the Board allegedly diverted state funds to the tune of N100 million earmarked by the government of the Kwara State in 2017 and 2018 for payment of bursary allowances to students of the state in various tertiary institutions.

Testifying, Abdulwahab stated that his bank was commissioned to be in charge of payment of the allowances to respective beneficiaries of the scheme, but was never provided with the list.

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Abdulwahab, who was the Head of Operations in a new generation bank testified as PW 8.

He said, “My Lord, sometime in 2018, the management of the Scholarship Board approached our bank for cheque discounting in the payment of bursary allowances to students of Kwara origin studying in various tertiary institutions. The bank’s managing director and I held a meeting with the management of Scholarship Board where we agreed to charge the sum of N100 (one hundred naira) from each of the cheques as interest. We were to pay cash of N5,000 (five thousand naira only) to ten thousand Students.

The PW8 told the court that officials of the bank followed personnel of the Board to Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, LAUTECH, Ogbomoso, but had what he described as ‘terrible experience’.

According to him, the place was rowdy and insecure. Abdulwahab stated that a report of what happened was forwarded to the bank following which the bank threatened to back out, a decision he said led to another arrangement of providing cash without the officials of the bank following them to field.

Testifying further, the witness narrated how the bank provided cash of N5,000 to ten thousand students and how the Scholarship Board’s management issued them cheque in return. He told the court that the cheques were not forged.

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Under cross-examination, Abdulwahab insisted that he neither sighted the list of beneficiaries at the Office of the Kwara State Scholarship Board nor at the EFCC where he was invited to give a statement on the matter.

The witness stated that all that transpired between his bank and the management of the Kwara State Scholarship Board were normal banking standards, which followed the due process.

The prosecution witness further stressed the fact that his bank’s cash officials no longer followed personnel of the Scholarship Board to the field after that experience at LAUTECH, for security reasons.

After his testimonies, Justice Oyinloye discharged the witness and adjourned till February 17, 2021, for further hearing.

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