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Revealed: How INGOs, staff embezzle billions of dollars meant for northeast IDPs

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The activities of some International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) operating in North-East Nigeria have once again come under the radar with regards to their true motives in the carrying out of humanitarian activities.

In many quarters, it has been stated that the presence of various INGOs in North-East Nigeria is one of the reasons why the war against terrorism in Nigeria is still on. It was also alleged that these INGOs have been providing logistics support to the Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorist group, as well as carrying out espionage activities that undermine the efforts of the Nigerian Military in the fight against terrorism.

This medium commissioned an investigative report on the activities of the INGOs in North-East Nigeria and presented the following revelations that were gathered from the field.

The Number of INGOs in North-East Nigeria:

It was revealed that between 2017 to date, there been an astronomical increase in the number of INGOs that registered to carryout humanitarian services in North-East Nigeria. A total number of 150 INGOs indicated an interest in operating in North-East Nigeria and from the number; over 80% are of French origin.

This astronomical rise was experienced when the Nigerian Military sacked Camp Zero, the operational headquarters of Boko Haram, in December of 2016. The bulk of the INGOs indicated they were carrying out humanitarian services for victims of the Boko Haram war, especially those domiciled in liberated communities and local government areas.

How the Military Goofed:

Credible sources in the know of things stated that the Nigerian Military thought that with the coming of INGOs, the task of rebuilding the war-torn communities would be made more manageable, and resettlement of displaced people would not take a more extended period with the help of the INGOs.

A source confided in this medium that the Military made a costly mistake by believing in the genuineness of the INGOs in operation in North-East Nigeria.

“The Nigerian Military allowed the influx of INGOs because they wanted speedy resettlement of displaced persons back their communities. They didn’t know that the majority of the INGOs have ulterior motives. The reality struck when some of them started taking up hotel spaces for upwards of ten years.”

“The INGOs took up all available hotel spaces in Maiduguri, the state capital, and you rarely find them in the liberated communities where they indicated they would be carrying out humanitarian services.”

Another source stated that the Nigerian Military immediately understood the game plan but was too engaged in the war to scrutinize the activities of the INGOs, and such they continued to grow in numbers and influence.

“ It was a daunting task the Nigerian Military had at hand, and this was what the INGOs capitalized on and entrenched themselves in the system.”

The Siphoning of Funds from Donor Agencies:

It was also revealed that most of the INGOs in operation in North-East Nigeria were in the habit of converting donor funds meant for humanitarian services. They have adopted a model that ensures that these funds continue to trickle by staging movies like scenes with women and children.

This medium was able to establish the fact that the bulk of the funds received by the INGOs in the North East were converted to private concerns. The foreign staffers of these organizations spend the bulk of their time in Lagos, Abuja, and Port Harcourt, where they frequent choicest night clubs and hotels.

A staff of one of the INGOs in operation in North-East Nigeria who pleaded anonymity described the activities of the INGOs as the height of fraud as they have been using Nigeria to defraud donor agencies.

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“The expatriate workers do not allow us to attend meetings where crucial decisions are taken as regards to providing humanitarian services. Whenever we make recommendations on the plight of those in IDP camps, they always turn down the request due to a lack of funds. But the next day, they would all fly business class to Lagos for night parties with choice whiskeys and wines.”

“They hardly stay in Maiduguri. There is a particular director that orders his food and drinks from Abuja. Since the past two years, he has been in Nigeria; he hasn’t spent the weekend in Borno State.”

Another source in one of the IDP camps stated that the INGOs are indeed fleecing Nigerians and the international communities with their nefarious activities. He noted that the quantum of monies received from donor agencies is enough to tackle the humanitarian crisis in North-East Nigeria if put to good use.
This medium was able to scrutinize the books of three INGOs, and it was realized that over $200 million have come in as foreign aids to these organizations alone, but there is nothing to show for it.

It was realized that the INGOs usually stage humanitarian crisis in IDP camps and send such clips to donor agencies who in turn release funds for humanitarian interventions that eventually ends up in private pockets.

This medium witnessed one of such displays, and when our reporter inquired further as to why the women and children are being recorded, the officials of the organization stated that it was a psychological exercise designed to give them some mental relief from the trauma of war.”

Our reporter later identified that those clips are packaged as real-life situations and used as materials for soliciting for funds from donor agencies.

The Lack of Accountability and Transparency:

Another issue identified was the apparent lack of transparency and accountability in the management of funds means for humanitarian interventions. A banker with one of the banks frequently used by most of the INGOs stated that once funds come in, the way and manner it is disbursed reeks of a regime of absolute financial recklessness.

He stated that the bulk of the expatriate workers pay themselves frivolous allowances under various sub-heads. “Whenever we receive funds, in less than 24 hours, the account is depleted with transfers to individual accounts that are not on the payroll. “He further added that this trend is familiar with almost all the INGOs in the North East in the past three years.

This medium was able to identify that the most thriving business by Europeans in Africa now is running NGOs that collect money from people on the pretext that same will be used for the basic needs of victims of disasters. At the same time, the same goes for personal effects.

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