Investigation into a missing N26m registration fees of 1, 128 students is currently rocking the Federal College of Education (FCE) Zaria with a new twist suggesting the active involvement of some staff of the First Bank, Sabon Gari Zaria, The Street Reporters reports.
As if this is not enough, the college has another war on its hands waged by a group with a grudge that is living up to a vow to make the place uncontrollable for the management.
Thus, the noise and mess currently engulfing the federal institution is believed to be the result of a deep-rooted animosity between former top management officials and the present ones.
Findings show that the entire staff structure in the Institution has been split by conflicts of interest now tangled in a vicious fight to finish.
Meanwhile the Police and authorities of the College last week confirmed the commencement of investigation into how the registration fees paid by 1, 128 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 organized fraud perpetrated by staff of the Sabon Gari Zaria branch of the First 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.
“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, and all categories of students are affected,” one of the estranged students said.
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.
“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 First 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 alaying worries of perceived complicity of the management in the matter.
“The management had since constituted a committee under the chairmanship of the College Bursar, Mohammed Sani-Uwais, to thoroughly investigate the mater and report back,” the Registrar said.
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.
Sani-Uwais said 99 per cent of the victims paid their money through the First Bank branch located in Sabon Gari, Zaria.
“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.
“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 referred to as Emma, had resigned before the case became public.
Most of the affected students who spoke to this paper also confirmed having dealt with 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 still ongoing,” he assured.
Another anonymous source disclosed that syndicate of students and some low-cadre members of staff of the College are strongly believed to be involved in the scam.
“One of the boys in whose account about N7 million was said to have been found was charged to court and remanded in prison for over two weeks,” the source said.
As the issue of the missing fees lingers, a war of vendetta is also believed to have been waged against the management of the college.
Independent investigation revealed that certain members of staff were at some point found wanting for various infractions and dismissed following due processes of referring them to relevant disciplinary committees and subsequent approval of the Federal Ministry of Education.
It is these sacked individuals that later regrouped and are making things difficult for the management through chains of petitions and other forms of distracting propaganda.
It is also noteworthy that there have been several allegations of gross misconduct against a retired high ranking officer of the college which are currently investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The group of sacked members of staff are therefore believed to be working in concert with this retired officer who holds a grudge over the non-payment of some monetary claims which the management said were frivolously inconsistent with existing financial guidelines.
Most students are in the picture of this and view the activities of this aggrieved group as counter productive.
“The story is all over the campus that a group of sacked staff has made an open vow to make the place ungovernable.
“We, as students, don’t know their reasons but it is not fair. We are also other people’s children just the way they have their own children, ” lamented a female student who said the fight is affecting the integrity of the college and hampering productivity.