It was a startling revelation about a fortnight ago when it was discovered that over 80 percent of students of Abia State Polytechnic, Aba who were taking their first semester examination entered the exam halls with fake school fees receipts.
This stunning discovery, coupled with the fact that the amount the institution generated as school fees was low compared to the number of students who claimed to have paid the fees, so much infuriated the Rector of the institution, Prof. Friday Ezionye Eboh that the management suspended the 2016/ 2017 first semester examination and ordered an immediate investigation.
It turned out that many of the students of the institution had been writing exams with fake school fees receipts until luck ran out on them on Thursday, May 11, 2017 when personnel of the bursary department on inspection school fees payment drive discovered the anomaly.
According to a source, “It was while they were doing the verification with a particular machine that they discovered the fraud. They discovered that about 80% of the students writing the exam had fake school fees receipts and this was immediately reported to the management who on Thursday ordered the suspension of the examination”.
Saturday Sun investigation revealed that school fees receipt racketeering in Abia Poly did not just start, it has been a way students who had no money or who misused their school fees adopt to beat through when the institution’s authorities when they move round to stop defaulters from writing exam.
According to the source, “Some students decided to indulge in the act because during exam, if any student is fished out for not paying his or her school fees, such student will have to take the exam later as ‘carry over’. This made the students to look for alternative ways to see themselves through and out of the trouble.”
Faking of school fees receipts
Faking of Abia Poly’s school fees receipts is done both within and outside the institution.
Our source revealed that some cyber café operators outside the institution’s gate are neck-deep in the racketeering. This, he said is done by “printing out an original online school fees receipt paid by Student A for example, from a computer set and changing the particulars, including passport photograph, name, matriculation number and department to that of Student B who will just pay N500 and he gets his ‘school fees receipt’, as simple as that. The fake receipt will also display the amount paid which is N60, 250 for science courses and N56, 000 for business courses.
“The original receipts are stamped and signed at the bursary department. When the fake receipt is scanned at the cyber cafe, the stamp will be on it as a photocopy, but if you enter into the exam hall with it and you are asked about the original receipt, you simply tell them you left the original at home to avoid losing it. Those involved in this type of racketeering mainly operate from outside the institution”
The discovery reportedly led to the raiding of a cyber café where the fake receipts were allegedly printed, prompting the arrest of a worker at the café while the owner is said to be at large.
Our discreet investigation also revealed another source of the fake school fees receipts. This has an insider connection and those in the bursary department allegedly do it. Some of the staff of the department, it was alleged, have their own receipts printed in the name of Abia Poly. “If you give them (the staff involved) between N25, 000 and N30, 000, they issue you receipt of full payment of school fees that look like the institution’s official receipt, but the money goes to their pocket. They do not deal with anybody they see for fear of being implicated, but with those they term their customers”, another source stated.
“At times, when a student goes to collect bank teller for the payment of school fees, some staff in the bursary department will fill in their personal account number on the teller instead of that of the school and when the students pay, the money will go into the staff’s account. And that tells you why some staff in that department are driving flashy cars; some of them are on a salary of N45, 000 a month. There is the fear that there may be some collusion with some bank staff who may be crediting the account without checking the account name. The student in most cases will be told a particular branch of the bank he will pay in the money”.
However, the bubble burstepenultimate Thursday when one of the fake online receipts was said not to have been ‘professionally’ done, and those on verification of school fees receipts apprehended the student brandishing it and this led to the suspension of exams by one week.
When contacted, Abia Poly public relations officer, Mrs. Maria Chinyere Ezeh confirmed the suspension of exams in the school as a result of school fees receipts forgery.
Mrs. Ezeh said she was not aware of the involvement of any staff in the whole episode since no staff has been indicted or arrested.
“I don’t know about the involvement of any staff in the whole thing, all I know is that many students were caught in exam halls last week with fake receipts and they will definitely say who gave them the fake receipts and until that is done, I will not like to speculate. All I know is that the rector will get to the root of the whole matter. I don’t think he will spare any staff that is involved in this scam”, she said.