The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Lagos Zonal Office charged three members of Hope Worldwide Foundation for mismanaging funds worth Naira 4.5 Million, meant for HIV patients. The members, namely Owolabi Samuel, Esther Mate and Abimbola David-Orugun work for the NGO, which particularly aided people living with HIV.
The three have been accused along with two companies, namely Cumulative Ventures and Continental Best Buys Limited, for stealing the aid funds. According to the Zonal office of Lagos an official count has been issued stating that the guilty, dishonestly tried to convert the sum of Naira 3,556,000 (Three Million Five Hundred and Fifty-Six thousand Naira), a property of MTN Nigeria Foundation. MTN Nigeria Foundation is a subsidiary of MTN Nigeria Communications Limited, which is set up to cater for the less-privileged people and those infected with HIV virus, across Nigeria.
In additions, the three accused have been ordered to enter into a financial bond of N2 Million each, which should be paid to the Chief Registrar of the Lagos State high court. Further, the passports of the charged staff members are also ordered to be deposited with Court’s registrar.
Adding, as told by the first prosecution witness, Abasiekong Udobang, a Programme Manager with MTN Nigeria, the accused misappropriated about the funds meant for the treatment of people living with HIV. The witness further disclosed that MTN, in the year 2005, engaged with Hope Worldwide Foundation for the better implementation of its two medical support programmes: Partners Against Malaria and Aids and Children and the Orphaned in the Community.
Udobang further added that MTN usually gave funds to Hope Worldwide, since it is an NGO. As a proof of the successful completion of the work, the funds were retired to MTN Foundation. However, the procedure continued till 2012 as afterwards MTN became suspicious about the retirement of some of its funds.
Interestingly, the witness said it was brought forward to their notice by their Business Risks Units, who found out that funds were instead utilized for buying drugs at the centers of HIV/AIDs and the documents were disclosed in the name of two companies that MTN had no association with.
The present economic and financial condition of Nigeria is experiencing a downfall with people deprived of basic amenities. This happened especially since terrorist groups like Boko Haram, dethroned government in 2009 and killed thousands of people while displacing millions.
In addition to the fall of economy, Nigeria is also being forced to remain dependent on foreign aid disburse by NGOs. However, such dependency has made it a vulnerable ground for corrupt institutions that easily carry out activities like money laundering and other illegal works.