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Rogue bankers steal customers’ funds online

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The simplification of banking services by technology has brought with it some hazards, including online frauds, OZIOMA UBABUKOH writes on the increasing rate of tampering with customers’ funds by bank employees

Cases of internal online fraud committed by bank employees have been on the rise lately, The PUNCH has learnt.

Our correspondent gathered that porous data system, coupled with dwindling remuneration in some of the banks, might have been encouraging bankers to tamper with customers’ funds.

Analysts are of the view that the quest to live fantasy lifestyles might have led some of the bankers to engage in such an illicit act.

An employee of a new generation bank said many of his former colleagues were sacked within the last two years due to discreet online manipulation of customers’ funds.

“Some had to resign when the lid on their deals was blown off,” the source, who pleaded not to be named, said.

“The most common cases are those that have to do with bankers tampering with the accounts of deceased customers and transferring the funds into their personal accounts within the same bank, or some other banks,” the source added.

The Central Bank of Nigeria had last month said there was a need to collaborate with various industry stakeholders to ensure that banks and other players in the financial services sector had maximum information security.

The CBN, through its Chief Information Security Officer, Taiwo Longe, had said that information security involved the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data, regardless of the form the data might take; whether electronic or print.

He said, “Financial institutions, hospitals, telecommunications corporations and private businesses, amass a great deal of confidential information about their customers, employees, products, research findings and financial status, among others.

“As such, there is a need for maximum security of this information that is collected, processed and stored on computers and transmitted across computer networks.

“When the confidentiality, integrity and availability of data is impacted, security is said to have been breached. There are various threats to information security. Some are very dangerous and disruptive; others are just a nuisance.”

Responding to the issue of online banking fraud, the Bankers’ Committee, through the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Access Bank Plc, Mr. Herbert Wigwe, said, “Online frauds in the banks are connected to biometrics. All frauds will end up in some accounts; so, if you have details of the person that post that account, that is the biometric details, no two individuals can have the same details, it will be easy to basically track or determine the culprit within the overall system.

“Remember that the industry is going to be sharing this platform. Therefore, once you know where that person is across the entire industry, we will all know that the person is a fraudster and he cannot change his name. The day you register, that is your name forever. If you come back with a thumbprint, and you try to change your name, the system will determine what you are about to do.”

“The second level is that the Bankers’ Committee is also looking at ways to determine what the appropriate levels of online transfers can be. The whole idea is to mitigate the issue of people transferring money and huge fraud. By reducing the amount, for instance, the incidence and the value of what that fraud can possibly be can be reduced.”

An industry analyst, Eseoghene Idolor, told our correspondent that poor internal control and checks by the banks usually created loopholes for their employees to commit fraud.

“Therefore, to reduce or eliminate fraud, there is a need to always have effective audit, security and surveillance systems during and after bank official operating hours,” he said.

The immediate past Chairman, Committee of e-Banking Heads, Mr. Chuks Iku, however, differed, saying, “It is very difficult to tamper with the accounts of customers in a bank because of the internal processes.”

According to him, closing an account or tampering with someone else’s money is not that easy, adding, “I do not agree that customers’ funds can be tampered with.

“If someone wants to commit fraud in the bank, it is difficult to stop, but such fraud will definitely be found out,” he added.

The Head, Brand and Media, eTranzact, Mr. Adeyemi Opene, encouraged customers to embrace mobile banking, “as there is minimal fraud in the process and it will help to avoid the bankers’ undue access to customers’ funds.”

“We didn’t pioneer online transactions, but we have really worked so hard to ensure that mobile transactions are seamless and secure,” he added.

Opene argued that for every transaction through mobile banking, there was a two-level authentication that made it very difficult for fraud to be perpetuated.

“We pioneered the Electronic Security Authentication; so, there is no way fraud can occur through the mobile money process, except when one reveals one’s card details,” he added.

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Pictorial: Gender mobile signs Mou with university of Uyo

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Monday June 10th Gender Mobile lead by Barr Omowunmi Ogunrotimi signed an Mou with the university of Uyo lead by its Vice Chancellor Professor Nyaudoh Ndaeyo

The Mou will allow Gender Mobile to support the University of Uyo to institutionalize sexual harassment prevention frameworks through policy, preventative education, and technology adoption.

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How US Billionaires Allegedly Fund Organ Trafficking In Nigeria

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The Global Prolife Alliance, GPA has sensationally revealed that billionaires from the United States are funding an organ trafficking cartel in Nigeria.
The GPA made the shocking revelation in a letter to President, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and Speaker, House Of Representatives.
The letter is signed by Academician (Dr) Philip Njemanze, Chairman, Global Prolife Alliance, GPA.
Njemanze said the cartel’s grip on the country’s healthcare system has resulted in the poaching of human organs and ovarian eggs, with millions of lives at stake.
The GPA cited the National Health Act of 2014 (NHAct 2014) as a tool for the cartel’s nefarious activities.
According to them, the cartel’s scheme involves coercing female farmers into purchasing genetically modified seeds in exchange for their ovarian eggs.

 

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CONTRACT SCANDAL ROCKS TETFUND AS ICPC ARRESTS CONTRACTOR

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A contract scandal of monumental proportion is currently rocking the the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).

So bad is the situation that operatives of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) have beamed their searchlight on the activities of TETFund.

Last Tuesday, a contractor, known as Paul Chukwuma, was arrested by the and as at the time of filling this report, he was yet to regain his freedom on account of not been able to perfect his bail condition.

We gathered that Paul Chukwuma, who is the founder and promoter of Fides Et Ratio Academy, an educational service provider was detained by the ICPC over his alleged involvement in contract mess.

Recall that the media was agog with the report of how TETFund awarded a controversial N3.8 billion contract to Mr Chukwuma’s company and paid N2.9 billion to the company in four installments without following due process

Shortly after the publication by Premium Times in April, the anti-graft body detained TETFund’s Director of Finance and Accounts, Gloria Olotu, and grilled others including the Director of Human Resources and General Administration, Kolapo Okunola, and the Director of Information Communication Technology (ICT), Joseph Odo.

Mr Chukwuma’s detention is the latest major development in the ICPC investigation that dates back to April.

ICPC’s spokesperson, Ademola Bakare, on Wednesday, confirmed Mr Chukwuma was in the agency’s custody.

The suspect, a player in the education business in the country, was also on the list of members of governing councils of tertiary institutions recently released by the Nigerian government before President Bola Tinubu directed the review of the list.

Recall that TETFund– a tertiary institutions’ funding agency under the Federal Ministry of Education– awarded the contract which it tagged: “Capacity Building Certificate Course (Communication, Entrepreneurship, and Productive Skill Development) inclusive of the Train-the-Trainer Programme for 502 (five hundred and two) Participants”.

Findings by this newspaper indicated that the funding for the contract was sourced from the 2023 annual direct disbursement budget domiciled in the agency for the use of about 251 beneficiary institutions – public universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education across the country.

Multiple sources confirmed that the institutions’ 2023 direct disbursement budget which totalled N15.2 billion was for Information Communication and Technology intervention projects.

However, rather than releasing the funds to the institutions as mandated by its operational guidelines, TETFund deducted the funds upfront from each of the institutions, amounting to a total of N7.6 billion.

During an interview with our reporters, the Executive Secretary of TETFund, Sonny Echono, told PREMIUM TIMES that each beneficiary institution contributed 50 per cent of its ICT funds while each polytechnic and college of education contributed 25 per cent of theirs to the project.

The choice of the project, the sourcing of the contractor, and signing a memorandum of understanding with the vendor were undertaken by TETFund. This development angered the administrators of most of the institutions.

Also, while the project designs and modalities were yet to be finalised, sources confirmed that within a month of the award of the contract TETFund on 30 June 2023 credited the company’s bank account with over N550 million (N550,380,780.23).

The transfer is with mandate number CBN/PROJ/224/JUN2023.

Over N820 million (N820,223,850) was additionally paid into the account on 12 July 2023, while on 26 July 2023 and 17 November 2023, N1.5 billion (N1,503,743,850) and N62.68 million (N62,684,036.05), respectively, were credited to the account by the CBN on behalf of TETFund.

Meanwhile, despite the various supposed beneficiary institutions denying the execution of the project, Mr Chukwuma, during a meeting between PREMIUM TIMES’ reporters and the company’s management, said the project “has been done and dusted.”

PREMIUM TIMES is aware that the project was designed for training 12 ICT officials across the 251 beneficiary institutions, and to onboard more than 500,000 students for both physical and virtual sessions. However, only two ICT officials in each of the tertiary institutions have taken part in what some of these officials described as engagement sessions.

Mr Chukwuma promised to make documentary evidence to back his claim to PREMIUM TIMES in April but as of the time of filing this report he has yet to do so.

He said his company was only helping Nigeria to achieve the very best for the students and the schools, saying the courses being offered the students through the programme has been “ridiculously subsidised.”

Learnt that Mr Chukwuma was on Tuesday invited to give a statement concerning his involvement in the contract scandal being investigated by the agency.

However, sources confirmed that after going through his statement, the antigraft agency imposed strict bail conditions that require the suspect to produce highly placed persons as suretees, among other conditions.

The agency’s spokesperson, Mr Bakare, who confirmed that Mr Chukwuma was in ICPC custody, said the suspect remained in detention because he could not satisfy the bail conditions.

“Yes, Chukwuma is in ICPC’s custody, unable to fulfil bail conditions,” Mr Bakare wrote in a terse statement shared with our reporter on early Wednesday. As of 6.05 p.m. when contacted over the telephone again by our reporter, Mr Bakare said he could not immediately ascertain if the suspect met the bail conditions before the end of official work hours.

Meanwhile, ICPC said the Executive Secretary of TETFund was yet to be invited, and not in its custody as being allegedly circulated.

It, however, said the investigation into the scandal was still ongoing and that it could not rule out the possibility of arresting anyone who played roles in the matter.

“Echono wasn’t invited but investigations are still ongoing,” Mr Bakare said.

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