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Exposed: NGO Stealing Money from Nigerians Under the Presumption of the Federal Govt


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    Hope for the Needy and Skills Empowerment Foundation, a non-governmental organisation founded by Kerry Kenu Sholaye, has been exposed for extorting money from Nigerians in the name of the federal government.

    The NGO claimed to have been engaged by the federal government as one of the entities contracted to coordinate the collection of data of vulnerable Nigerians to be enlisted on the national social register and qualify them to benefit from the government’s cash palliative designed for the poorest Nigerians.

    Sholaye’s NGO has formed several groups, largely existing on WhatsApp, in different states and recruited unsuspecting Nigerians as members, promising them exciting opportunities. The field workers expect to collate the data of vulnerable Nigerians and deliver cash to them on behalf of the government.

    Kerry Kenu Sholaye
    Kerry Kenu Sholaye

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    In Osun State, a group is headed by Dagunro Babatunde David, who is regarded as state coordinator. On September 3, he briefed the members on the group about the NGO’s relationship with the federal government. He then demanded all the group members to pay N1,050 to a First Bank account number belonging to Harren Resource and Associate. No fewer than 314 people have been recruited to the WhatsApp group, and they are promptly paying the requested money.

    Dagunro Babatunde David.
    Dagunro Babatunde David.

    The text of his message on September 3 read in part, “Hope for the Needy is a Federal Government initiative through our notable NGO, Hope for Nigeria. The aim is to empower every less-privileged and also to update the state social register for each state (more details on that later). Hence, the need for selecting us as either local government coordinators or community workers.

    “I want you to know that it is a privilege being here, and you are not going to regret it. As time goes by, you shall be furnished with your duties as regards this programme. But for now, the first assignment given to us from the national headquarters is to ensure all our officials have a valid means of identification, and we have been told that all officials will pay a token of N1,050 for your ID card.

    1/3: ID payment receipt, NGO’s ID form and coordinators’ contacts

    “It is to be paid between now and 1 pm tomorrow. If you are interested, make your payment to the account below: Harren Resource and Associates, First Bank account 3079238408.”

    On the same September 3, the group had an introductory meeting on a Telegram group, anchored by Oni Olawale Stephen, the group’s public relations officer. Responding to FIJ on Thursday, Stephen said he did not know that the government did not support the programme, saying he was recruited like other members.

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    “In August, it was in the news that some money was released to state governments for palliatives. For one reason or the other, accountability seems to be inadequate. That is why this issue was contracted out and Hope for the Needy in Nigeria was among the people that were given this opportunity to move round Nigeria and coordinate palliatives,” David said during the one-hour virtual meeting.

    During a press conference held in Lagos on September 26, Sholaye stated that the NGO’s effort to update the social register was facilitated by the federal government. “The project is facilitated by the federal government through the World Bank. Through the communities, we are going to reach the poorest of the poor and the target is for 20 million Nigerians to be added to this national social register and state social register.”

    Video Credit: AIT

    Contrary to the NGO’s claim, the National Social Safety-Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO) domiciled in the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Disaster and Poverty Alleviation has told FIJ that it had no knowledge of the group’s activities.

    In response to FIJ’s email sent to verify the NGO’s claim, NASSCO responded on October 3 that Hope for the Needy did not have its mandate to engage in such exercise.

    The social agency clarified that the NGO had never been commissioned by the government to “undertake any update of the register on behalf of NASSCO”.

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    It, however, said that the non-governmental organisation, which was registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission on June 28, 2023, once requested a collaboration with the federal government.

    NASSCO email reads partly, “The organization, Hope For Nigeria (Hope for the needy and Skills Empowerment Foundation), has never been commissioned by NASSCO to undertake any update of the register on behalf of NASSCO.

    “Hope For Nigeria had in the past reached out to us proposing a collaborative engagement since they also work with vulnerable populations across the country. They specifically sought to know if it was possible to onboard people they hold on their databases into the National Social Register.

    “In a virtual meeting NASSCO held with them, NASSCO outlined the process for targeting individuals and households for the National Social Register which leaves no room for onboarding people not targeted via the Community Based Targeting approach adopted for the NSR.

    “NASSCO, however, introduced the NGO to our State Operations and Coordinating Units (SOCUs) so they could reach out and be properly taken through how poor and vulnerable households are targeted for the National Social Register. They do not have any mandate or authorisation to conduct any exercise as described in your mail for or on behalf of NASSCO.”

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    Effort to speak with the national headquarters of the NGO was not successful as of the time of this publication, as it did not respond to our phone calls, WhatsApp chat and an SMS.

    Responding to FIJ’s phone call on Thursday, David said he would neither respond to our questions nor reply to a text message unless it was put in “blue and white” and sent to him. He had earlier said whoever was not interested in paying should exit the platform when FIJ phoned him on September 3.

    On its website, the NGO claims it has more than 210,000 staff members. It added that its programmes had benefitted more 25 million people with a project funding up to the tune of 75 billion.

    Sources


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