N109.9m scandal rocks National Orthopaedic Hospital Staff Co-operative in Enugu

Posted by Charles Iwuoha, Enugu | 30 April 2018 | 1,702 times

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A total of N109.9 million deposited by staffers of the National Orthopaedic Hospital, Enugu, in a business venture by its cooperative, ‘National Orthopaedic Hospital, Enugu Staff Co-operative Thrift and Loans Society limited (NOHESCT&LS Ltd)’, have been embezzled or misappropriated by those elected to oversee its affairs.

Investigations by News Express revealed that since the election of the current executive in July 9th 2015, under a special general meeting (SGM) led by Engr. Philip Ugwuonah and Uchenna Odo, President and secretary respectively, they have been saddled with the task of recovering the missing fund.

Determined to unravel how the monies belonging to the Society went down the drain, the entire members of the Co-operative decided to audit its account as managed by the past executive members from 2011 to 2015 in its inaugural general meeting held on the 19th day of August 2015.

It was gathered that upon the decision of the congress that one Mr. Basil Udeh and the Auditing firm of “Full Length Consult” was appointed to audit the internal operation of the cooperative and banking transaction of the business venture respectively through the state director cooperative society in accordance with the law.                       

At the conclusion of the internal operations audit, the External Auditor uncovered fraud and misappropriation of the sum of N107,933,082 by past executive of the cooperative.

According to the audit report of the banking operations of the Cooperative accounts, in Stanbic IBTC and Skye banks, a copy News Express obtained, shows that the past executive members in their tenure collaborated with the banks to defraud the Cooperative Society to the sum of N64,049,688.12 and N30,576,415.96 respectively; totaling N94,626,104.

Further investigation revealed that 213 plots of land purchased under the immediate past executives, which were handled by a land committee, one Ezeokoli Felix and Ekpa Chukwuma Ekpoto, chairman and secretary respectively was inconclusive.

The activities of the committee were said to have been uncovered with irregularities as no member of the Cooperative Society who was a beneficiary could access his/her plot of land from 2012 when it was purchased till date.

“Upon the audit report and irregularities in the management of the 213 plots of land by the committee, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), was invited by the present administration upon approval by the general house to investigate and sanitise the system.

“However, through the intervention of ICPC, the Society has recovered the said land from the vendor, registered same in the name of the Cooperative Society as No. 78 page 78 in volume 1695 Deed Registry Enugu.”

Also, through the help of ICPC, N10 million is currently being recovered from the said land committee, which they are paying one million Naira every month as they have agreed but without prosecution. “This N10 million was discovered as money misappropriated by the committee through its report captioned “report of land committee of Staff Co-operative, Thrift and Loan Society National Orthopaedic Hospital Enugu”.

The Cooperative Society reported the embezzlement and misappropriation of N109.9 million by the former executive and trustees to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in a petition dated 10th of August 2017 and signed Barr. Emeka Abah, counsel to the Thrift Society.

The staff who were former trustees of the cooperative society are Etukodo Ibanga, President; Ochi Godwin, Vice President; Ilo Nkechi, Secretary, Aguoha Chinwe, Treasurer and Asuquo Tom Emmanuel, Financial Secretary.

According to Abah of the Emmanuel Chambers, New Haven, Enugu, the above mentioned staff who were their trustees, allegedly misappropriated the sum of one hundred and seven million, nine hundred and thirty-three thousand, eighty two naira, N107,933,082.00 while in office and want EFCC to investigate them with the aim of recovering the said loot.

In the letter captioned, “Petition for fraud, misappropriation, and embezzlement of N107,933,082.00 (one hundred and seven million, nine hundred and thirty three thousand, eight two Naira) executives of National Orthopaedic Hospital Enugu Cooperative, Thrift and Loan Society, Enugu,” written to the Zonal Head, EFCC, South-East Zonal office, Enugu, the society wants a thorough investigation of the said staff.

“That the said trustees fraudulently managed their affair during their tenure in office, withdrawing money(s) via cheques and such money(s) withdrawn were higher than the amount written in the cheque stubs;

“Some cheques were written and turn out of the cheque booklets but were not found in the statement of account of the cooperative society; the sum of N5,513,520, five million, five hundred and thirteen thousand, five hundred and twenty Naira only, were padded in the course of the above exercise.”

In order to get to the root of the matter, the organisation urged the EFCC to do justice to the allegation.

“We, therefore, urge you to use your good office to investigate the aforementioned and or former trustees for the alleged offences stated herein,” the petition reads.

When contacted for their reaction on the allegation, the former President, Etukodo Ibanga, said the matter has been taken to court, and as such, cannot make any comment.


Source: News Express

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