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Hope For Nigeria NGO debunks “exploitation” of Southern Kaduna IDPs

…Refutes issuing Dud Cheque.

…Denies of any business with IDPs.

…Says, Mrs. Alice ‘invited’ them.

…HFN received only N14,700.

…Threatens legal action. 

by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna

The Management of ‘Hope for Nigeria’ (HFN), an NGO charged with the responsibility for the development of Nigeria, has strongly refuted allegations of financial exploitation and issuance of dude cheque for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Southern Kaduna leveled against them.

HFN expressly, aggressively stated that majority of the content of the petition written against the association were completely misleading and full of falsehood, adding that the association had no business with Southern Kaduna IDPs as claimed.

Recalled that a “Verification Committee” of Southern Kaduna IDPs, headed by one Mrs Alice Emmanuel, had written a strong-worded elaborate petition of financial exploitation and issuance of dude cheque against the association allegedly working toward providing skills centre for IDPs, which was widely publicized.

Reacting to the petition on weekend, in a statement made available to our Kaduna correspondent through the association’s chairman, Mr. Kerry Kenu Sholaye, the body noted that the chairman verbally denied most of the claims with a promise to follow up with a “Letter of Rebuttal” immediately. 

Titled: ‘Letter of Rebuttal and Dismay,’ Mr. Sholaye explained that the management of the Hope for Nigeria, a registered association for development of Nigeria, received the write-up of a press statement on the 29th of June 2023 at about 1:52 pm (13:52 GMT + 1) with shock. 

HFN’s letter, signed by the Secretary, Sylvia Ohile Francisca, stressed that “The accusation laid on the association and majority content of the write-up was completely misleading and false.

The Association through its Chairman, Mr Kerry Kenu Sholaye, verbally denied the claims with a promise to follow up with a “Letter of Rebuttal” immediately. 

“To the dismay and total shock of the entire management and staff of the association, the false information leveled against the association was published on several print and news media less than 24 hours of presenting the write-up.

“The association condemns the act of the various media outfits, who went ahead to publish such information without thorough investigation. 

“The whole process was tailored towards placing a dent on the good image of the association and discrediting the efforts of the association towards developing Nigeria,” it lamented.

“The management, through this letter gives a detailed breakdown of the events and involvement with Mrs. Alice Emmanuel,” it stated.

Providing background, the HFN letter stated that “The association embarked on the National tour which began on the 17th of April 2023,” adding that “On the 24th of April 2023, was the date scheduled for Kaduna State visit.” 

“A call came in, from Mrs. Alice Emmanuel, with phone number 08058365282 by 11:57 AM (11:57 GMT + 1). The call lasted for 186 seconds (3mins 6s), and Mrs. Alice, who called in as a Local Government Coordinator, appealed that we pay her a visit to her Local Government Area, in Zangon Kataf. (Details of the call is available on WAV audio file on request),” it stated.

HFN also stated that “We agreed to visit the community as she claimed that there were persons who needed the help of the organization in those places in line with the agenda of the National tour.

“We arrived Samaru Kataf, of Zangon Kataf Local Government by 12:03 pm (12:03 GMT + 1) and was met by Mrs. Alice who had with her some individuals who she claimed to work with her and also a large crowd waiting to receive our

“The Chairman, largely impressed by the turnout of persons and his drive to help the people, encouraged Mrs Alice by giving her an offer to be upgraded to a State Coordinator from her existing position, which was a Local Government

“The position comes with an official car as an incentive and also an increased salary. The conditions was clearly stated in our ‘Job Offer Letter’ {document attached}, alongside other offers and conditions needed to maintain such position. 

“During the discussion, we offered to assist victims affected by flood only, which was part of the agenda of the National Tour {attached is partnership request with the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, on the condition that: The association is provided with data of each person affected by the flood with evidence that they were truly affected.

“We went further to ask how many families?, and she said over 400. The Chairman then agreed to offer the community funds in various 2 phases, with the first N20,000,000.00 (Twenty million naira only) released as a plaque cheque with the condition stated above. 

“Mrs Alice Emmanuel went further to propose a skill acquisition center in the community, which was approved by the Chairman. After the discussion, the Chairman and his team went ahead to address the crowd {the address was recorded and is available in MP4 format on request} and issued the plaque cheque in the name of Mrs Alice Emmanuel. 

“At 2:27 PM (14:27 GMT + 1) the Chairman and his team concluded with the gathering and headed off from Samaru Kataf to our next destination in Sabon, Southern Kaduna where we met with the State Coordinator Head, Mrs Josephine Ugwuoke,” it stated.

In the rebuttal: It continued that “After the visit and issue of the plaque cheque, Mrs Alice Emmanuel did not send any form of data or information for those she claimed were affected by the flood till date. Mrs Alice Emmanuel went about her activities without reporting to the State.

“The claim that the organization or any of her representatives said the funds for the cheque was to be gotten from the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Mgt is false and misleading.

“No across-the-counter cheque (which can be cashed at the bank) was issued to her, based on the fact she didn’t follow up with the organization afterwards. So, the claim that a cheque was ‘Dud’ is absolutely false.

“We had no business in any form with any IDP (internally displaced persons)-related body. The association didn’t meet both formally or informally with any of such bodies and was not aware they even existed, till they were referred to in the publications. The claim is absolutely false.

“The organization only received the sum of N14,700 (Fourteen thousand and seven hundred naira only) in 14 different payments from the day of the visit, 24th April 2023 {we attached the various proof of payment). So, the claim that about 1,000 persons have paid funds to the organization is false and we would want proofs to that effect.

“Mrs Alice Emmanuel went further to send 347 names to the State Coordinator Head for verification, and claimed to have paid the verification fee of N1,050 (One thousand and fifty naira) for each of them. The payment was never received by the organization even after spending hundreds of thousands to process their ID cards and run a biometric process.

“A claim that the Management instructed Mrs Alice Emmanuel to make payment to anyone’s personal account is false and a cover up for fund diversion and greed. We will categorically state that no one, not even the Chairman have received a dime into his personal account. 

“Mrs Alice Emmanuel, out of greed, connived with a former Probational Staff of the Association to divert funds meant to verify prospective Staff of the community with the sole reward of having backyard access to the funds issued in the cheque.

“A sharing formula was agreed on with her, and she went ahead to settle for the evil deal by criminally diverting the community funds to an individual, Moses Choorji.

“The claim that we are yet to have impacts in the lives of Nigerians is absolutely false, as we have countless testimonies. The projects were inaugurated in Southern Kaduna on the 20th of June, 2023, and would kick-off on the 10th of July, 2023. 

“Over 100,000 (one hundred thousand) residents of Kaduna would benefit from the program from kick-off and there’s an appointed Local Government Coordinator representing Zangon Kataf Local Government Areas.

“We are certain that the false claim would be debunked with time. The Association has a standard ‘Refund Policy’ for anyone, who made payment for the biometric verification. The policy clearly states that ‘an individual can seek refund at anytime.’ 

“The whole concept of seeking a refund through a press statement, like we didn’t have a provision for that is misleading just like most of the information contained in the press statement,” it added.

HFN, therefore, submitted that “Mrs Alice Emmanuel and her cohorts resorted to tarnishing the image of the great and resourceful association that have committed its finance, time and other resources to ensure that Nigeria becomes united and better. 

“It is unfortunate that the Broadcasting Media is used as a tool to spread falsehood. The unprofessional way some of the Broadcasting Medias acted will not be condoned by the association and, if an immediate action is not taken to correct this, we would resort to taking legal actions and challenging the policies of the Nigerian Broadcasting Cooperation (NBC) that would allow such an act take place under their watch.

“Mrs Alice Emmanuel and her cohorts only temporarily subjected the good people of Kaduna State and the entire Nation to lies and deceit. We call on all other Broadcasting Medias to do a thorough investigation of the issue before making any public broadcast. This will save them any legal process or being seen as accomplices to the crime of defamation and spreading false information. 

“At the time of writing this letter, 6:00 am (06:00 GMT + 1), the Management is open to discussion, questions and follow-ups with evidences to rebuff the lies expressed in the press-release. 

“And will seize all intended legal actions, if the whole process is suspended. We would provide as much evidences as is needed for clarity purposes. 

“We further attached the ‘Breakdown of the Projects’ to ensure a clear understanding of how the association operates. We appreciate your prompt response and compliance,” it stated.

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