GIS decries alleged illegal deductions from Interns’ stipend
THE Graduate Internship Scheme (GIS), an arm of the Subsidy Re-investment and Empowerment Programme of the federal government has accused the Managing Director, Forcecom Networks Limited, Paul Okafor of defrauding some graduates deployed to his organisation of N30, 000 each.
According to GIS, the money was allegedly collected from the graduates on the guise of opening a trading account for the mobile money business of the interns.
GIS explained that some interns were allegedly compelled by Okafor to pay the said amount into another company’s account instead of a trading account.
Speaking at a press conference, Head of Operations, GIS, Akubo Akegbe explained that the scheme had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Forcecom in 2014, to mentor and train about 2000 graduates in mobile money.
According to him, seven states; Abuja, Lagos, Imo, Edo, Delta, cross-river and Akwa Ibom States, were selected as pilot states.
He said investigations revealed that FNL had signed a standing order of N7, 500 with banks that would be deducted from the monthly stipends of the interns for training at Lekki Business School, a move, which according to him is in violation of the guidelines of the scheme.
Some of the reasons for termination of the partnership with the organisation, according to Akegbe were, “non-deployment of interns to work on mobile money business months after they were deployed to the company; allegedly coercing interns to sign an undertaken to pay, N7, 500 of their monthly stipend for training with Lekki Business School; and allegedly conniving with some graduates to register in January while the hire date was set as November 2014.”
Akegbe alleged that Okafor sent timesheets to GIS for payment of stipends to interns who according to him had not worked; “as a result, the scheme paid the interns for two to four months under the falsehood”.
The Head of Operations said: “The interns that have paid money to FNL for any reason have provided details of the payments and the GIS and security agencies will work to compel FNL to refund the monies.”
One of the interns who spoke on the issue, Miss Faith Osasogie said: “I paid the N30, 000 because Mr. Okafor threatened to remove my name from the interns deployed to him and I really wanted to work.”
Meanwhile, one of the interns, Nwaimoh Daniel, in a petition written to the Directorate for Citizen’s Right against Forcecom alleged that he signed under duress an undertaken for the deduction of N10, 000 monthly for the duration of the programme.
All efforts to reach Okafor as at the time of filing this report were not successful as text messages and calls made to his mobile lines were not responded to.