From Abdulahil Hassan, Zaria
Investigation into the missing N26m registration fees of 1, 128 students currently rocking the Federal College of Education (FCE) Zaria, has assumed a new twist with a suggestion of active involvement of some staff of a first generation bank with a branch in Sabon Gari, Zaria.
The police and authorities of the college last week confirmed the commencement of investigation into how the registration fees paid by the affected students through some banks were not credited into the institution’s bank account, while those paid in other banks have been duly reflected.
Raising the initial alarm, the FCE bursary department said it had discovered that more than N26 million tuition paid by students in some banks in Zaria were not credited.
A cross-section of the affected students believe that it is an organised fraud perpetrated by some staff of the bank and some members of staff of the institution.
“I personally paid my money at the bank’s main branch in Sabon Gari, but to my greatest dismay, they said my money did not drop into the FCE account,” one of the affected students told Campus Sun. “As I am talking to you now, my name is not captured as a registered student and I am not the only person affected. Over 1,000 students are now facing similar problems.”
Another student said he also paid through the same bank, adding, “I have the deposit slip and the registration slip with me, however, they said I have not registered.”
According to him, a large number of the affected students have been left confused as to where to claim their monies from before the setting up of an enquiry by the institution’s management. “We are now beginning to relax following the concern shown by our provost and his team,” one of them said.
“With the transparent way the college committee is going about the investigation, we are confident that in the end, we would all know who is behind this mess. They are using Hi-Tech to trace where the problem came from. They do it openly in the presence of each affected student,” he said.
Asked if the students have sufficient reason to suspect the college management of culpability in the fraud, the victim said: “that cannot be possible. If the management were involved, we don’t think they will show the concern they are showing. The case was uncovered by the bursary department and reported to the police. The Bursar is chairing the committee that is now helping us with facts and encouraging us to face the bank. We must cooperate with the management if we must get out of this,” he explained.
He insisted that some staff of the bank are the sole culprits and its management does not appear to be interested in taking any action against them.
The Registrar of the College, Dr Jibril Lawal confirmed the incident, while allaying worries of perceived complicity of the management, noting that “the management had since constituted a committee under the chairmanship of the College Bursar, Mohammed Sani-Uwais, to thoroughly investigate the matter and report back.”
On his part, the committee chairman, who is also the college Bursar, said his vigilance was responsible for the discovery that payments made by 1, 128 students were not credited into the institution’s TSA account. He added that 82 other students also had irregular records of payment.
“This is a serious issue, as such, we reported the case to the police and police advised us to come and set up an administrative committee to investigate the matter, which we did,” he said. “We have gone very far in discharging this responsibility after deploying our professional IT staff to trace the problem. They do this right on the floor of the committee room and in the full view of each affected student. We are getting to the roots of the matter.
“When a student appears before us, we ask him how he made the payment, whom he paid to, and if he can identify him. We want to establish where the problem is and also who and who are involved in the shoddy deal and report back to the management for further action,” the Bursar said.
He alleged that an attempt had been made on his life as a result of the investigation. Officials of the affected bank did not respond to inquiries on the matter, but a reliable source confirmed that the major suspect, simply named Emma, had resigned before the case became public. Most of the affected students who spoke to Campus Sun confirmed paying through the mysterious Emma, while most others insist they paid to other cashiers who are still working with the bank.
Spokesperson of the Kaduna State Police Command, ASP Aliyu Usman confirmed that the case was reported to the Zaria Area Command and full investigation had begun.
“One of the prime suspects had been arrested and investigation is ongoing,” he assured.