The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Tuesday resumed the trial in the alleged mismanagement of N100million scholarship funds by the immediate past chairperson of the Kwara State Scholarship Board, Hajia Fatimoh Yusuf, and two other principal officers of the Board.
The EFCC produced 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 EFCC Ilorin Zonal Office is prosecuting Yusuf, alongside the Executive Secretary of the Board, Fatai Lamidi, and its Accountant, Ajewole Stephen, on seven counts bordering on stealing and fraudulent diversion of public funds.
According to a release from the commission, the three officers of the Board allegedly diverted state funds to the tune of 100 million earmarked by the government of 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 put in charge of payment of the allowances to respective beneficiaries of the scheme, but was never provided with any list.
Abdulwahab, who was the Head of Operations in a new generation bank, testified as Witness 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 State origin studying in various tertiary institutions.
“The bank’s managing director and I held a meeting with the management of the scholarship board where we agreed to charge the sum of N100 from each of the cheque as interest.
“We were to pay cash of N5,000 to 10,000 students.”
He told the court that officials of the bank followed personnel of the Board to Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Oyo State, but had what he described as a ‘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 to provide cash without the officials of the bank following them to the field.
Testifying further, the witness narrated how the bank provided cash of N5,000 each to 10,000 students and how the scholarship board’s management issued them cheques in return. He told the court that the cheques were not forged.
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 office where he was invited to give his 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 the experience at LAUTECH, for security reasons.
After his testimonies, Justice Oyinloye discharged the witness and adjourned till February 17, 2021, for further hearing.