Alleged 15m fraud rocks secondary school in Ebonyi

Parents of students at Federal Science Technical College, FSTC, Amuzu in Ezza South Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, under the umbrella of Concerned Parents, have expressed concern about alleged financial irregularities committed by executive members of the Parent Teachers Association, PTA.

This was revealed during a press briefing in Abakaliki, where they accused the PTA Chairman, Monday Eze, the Financial Secretary, Mrs Nwali Nkechi, and the PRO, Mr Ogbonnaya James, of carelessly squandering over fifteen million naira belonging to the association.

Addressing the press on behalf of concerned parents, Mr Okoro Chukwu Olughu, the treasurer of the PTA, said they considered it reasonable to brief the press so that parents and other PTA members would not be ignorant of the goings-on.

Olughu said: “We, on behalf of ourselves, all FSTC PTA members and concerned parents, wish to use this medium to bring to the knowledge of the public the flagrant mismanagement of the PTA funds by the PTA Chairman, Mr. Eze Monday.

“Within his first six months in office, he has lavishly squandered over N15 million, in his wanton recklessness without any substantial physical structure to show for it.

“This document is intended to fully expose the details of all his financial and non-financial impropriety and his untamed unethical administrative style. We want to let Ebonyians, Nigerians and the whole world know that Mr Monday Eze came to plunder the meagre resources of FSTC Amuzu, empty the PTA account and enrich himself and his family.”

The PTA treasurer continued: “It is important to mention, at this juncture, the key players whose supportive roles enabled the chairman to go this far. They are the Financial Secretary, Mrs Nwali Nkechi, who firmly joined forces with the chairman to sign withdrawals with reckless abandon, in keeping with her vow and determination to empty the PTA treasury as revenge for the principal’s refusal to give admission to her child who could not meet entrance requirements.

“The PRO, Mr Ogbonnaya James, who was always ready to execute the chairman’s orders without minding whether or not they were repugnant to equity and natural justice. He has always volunteered his personal account for some of those dubious transactions and he knows exactly the financial rewards he gets. He has blown away over N15 million since he assumed office on 24th June, 2023.”

Olughu, stating the alleged excesses of the PTA chairman, said: “Mr Monday Eze insists that every financial transaction and withdrawal from the PTA account must be routed through his personal account.

“He goes all out, alone to negotiate and contract with supplier, labourer or service provider, only to come back and feed the Exco with the final costs he agreed with the contractors, and the payment must always pass through his bank account to the final beneficiary.

“Mr Eze flouts the laid down procedures of the Procurement Act and does not care about the provisions of the Financial Regulations. And he operates as if none of those regulatory instruments exist. Even the PTA Financial Secretary, Mrs Nwali Nkechi, who was a former LGA Vice Chairman, is supposed to guide him.

“He directed his Exco to always collect empty receipts from clients, which they could always fill out later after making transactions. He dabbles in any project without analysing the costs and benefits. He is motivated by the financial benefits he has padded into the contract or supply and does not care whether it is prudent to embark on such projects.

“He seems not to be aware of any PTA operational guidelines or he deliberately does not want to follow them. This finds expression in the way he floated a compulsory development levy of N30,000 for every new student and forced it down the throats of the parents last year.”The group also accused the PTA chairman of a coverup.

“In a bid to cover up all of these and many more, he excommunicated the PTA Treasurer and removed him from both the Exco platform and the general parent WhatsApp platforms. And when he saw that this pleased his political allies and some uninformed parents, he has been in the business of removing legitimate parents from the platforms. He has removed about six other parents whom he felt their comments in the WhatsApp group threatened his ego and cynical subterfuge to defraud the innocent parents,” Olughu claimed.

Accusing the PTA chairman of running the association like a sole proprietor who never gives room for transparency nor follows due processes, He said: “The Chairman has taken further steps, in his desperate attempt to cover his glaring sins and iniquities, to connive with the PTA accounting officers from UBA bank and they have disabled my alert system such that since 31st January 2024, till date, I have not been getting alert for all the withdrawals and other transactions going on in the PTA account.

“This is a high-profile fraud and ploy for him to have unfettered access to parents’ funds and misuse it as he pleases.”

The group called on parents, the school Management and other stakeholders to investigate the issues raised, saying, “we are always available to make clarifications where necessary.”

“While we await the response of the Federal Ministry of Education in a letter which requested the urgent intervention of the Honourable Minister and the Director of Senior Secondary Education, dated 18th January 2024, we considered it reasonable to make this press release so that our ignorant parents and other PTA members will feel the pains Mr. Monday Eze is inflicting on the commonwealth of the PTA and how the school principal is folding his hands and watching silently,” the PTA treasurer added.

When contacted on the phone for his reaction, the PTA Chairman, Monday Eze, said he was in transit and could not react to the allegations.

However, Mrs Nwali Nkechi and James Ogbonnaya, the PTA Financial Secretary and PRO, respectively, denied the allegations.