Charity Racket: How a Briton Defrauds Akwa Ibom Government of $2.5M By George Baldwin
|Gov Godswill Obot Akpabio|
of Akwa Ibom State
"Yes I can confirm to you that a senior government official is colluding with Mr Gary Foxcroft to commit a grand larceny and fraud with the hope of getting his own cut; and some documentations have been procured to that effect so that it will look genuine. They termed it 'Grant for training of teachers and children.' Right now, part of the fund will be committed to their hands in a week from now, the rest will be disbursed after three months," the official saidUnder the aegis of a not-for-profit organization, Stepping Stones Nigeria (SSN), Mr. Froxcroft fronts his wife, Mrs Naomi Foxcroft to the volatile Niger Delta region only with one object: to swindle the Akwa Ibom State government of a whooping $2.5 million US Dollars.Mrs. Foxcroft who uses her maiden name, Naomi Chapel under the cover and impression that Stepping Stones Nigeria (SSN) was now under a new leadership after it fell apart with Akwa Ibom state government in 2010; and that Mr. Foxcroft resigned from the organization since 2011. This gesture will be returned in kind by way launching a wide media praise singing once the money is sharedHowever, a volunteer with SSN in Lancaster, United Kingdom who spoke on account of anonymity revealed that Mr. Foxcroft only stepped aside temporarily to enable him fully develop his two new organizations, Witchcraft and Human Rights Information Network (WHRIN) and Universal Learning Solution (ULS), a borrowed plumes from Jolly Phonics in the UK, both equally based in Lancaster (with undisclosed addresses); and in order to douse tension that has greeted SSN over the N15 million bribe scandal that rocked the organization about two years ago."No, no, he did not resign from Stepping Stones Nigeria! He only took a sabbatical to relieve himself of the tension and to use that period to develop the two new organizations I just mentioned to you. Check on their website and Facebook pages I gave you, you'll see what I'm trying to say," the volunteer stated.Checks confirmed that, apart from SSN which Naomi Foxcroft is now posing as the Acting Director, both Witchcraft and Human Right Information Network (WHRIN) and Universal Learning Solution (ULS) are both headed by Mr. Foxcroft.Checks also reveal that Mr Foxcroft is also the head of Jolly Phonics Nigeria, one of the four Foxcroft-led organizations packaged in the said proposals to defraud Akwa Ibom government.Though Foxcroft refused to respond to the various overtures including phone calls and emails for an interview, an SSN official said that they applied for grant from Akwa Ibom government and they were in the process of getting it."Listen, I don't know what you call scam or where do you get the version of your own story! We're registered charity and have the right to apply for funding from any organization," she fumed.On why Foxcroft is no longer the spokesperson of the organization, she said."Whether it's Gary or not, it's under a charities and he's still part of SSN if that's your problem! Emily Secker is the new spokesperson and Naomi Foxcroft is the acting Head" she explained further.In 2011, the Nigerian arm of the SSN, called Stepping Stones Nigeria Child Empowerment Foundation (SSNCEF) based in Eket, Akwa Ibom State won a $150,000 rising star award grant from Star Foundation, a UK charity foundation meant for 2012 year. But in a swift turn of events, Mr. Foxcroft reportedly pocketed $20,000 from the grant on what he called "one-off payment" for his role and effort to secure the grant.This development did not go down well with Mr. Lucky-Imo Inyang, the founder and then Program Director of SSNCEF in Nigeria who vehemently challenged Foxcroft for the pocketing of such a staggering amount of money, which was never included in the proposals during application. Piqued by this affront, Foxcroft mobilized a few hands of the SSNCEF Trustees in Nigeria with financial inducement to compel Mr Inyang's resignation on a flimsy ground of what he called "incompetence and lack of qualification" to head such organization.When Inyang refused to resign, Foxcroft was said to have bribed the Nigerian Mobile Police picked on the roadside to terrorize Inyang. In order to concentrate with his studies, in the University of Uyo and students union government election which he subsequently won as president, Inyang threw in the towel, and a certain Utibe Ikot whose father is a former secretary of Esit Eket Local Government Council was horridly drafted as Acting Program Director which gave Foxcroft an easy ride and leeway to pocket his controversial 'one-off payment' without question. But Ikot resigned and skidded to Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) when Foxcroft again accused him of what he called 'massive fraud and gross misconduct'However, within a year of Inyan's exit, the SSNCEF suffered a setback and was closed down. A check on its office at #2 Clinic Road Extension, Eket shows that the place is now under locked and keyed with morse and rodents the only official inhabitants of the place. Yet the $150,000 grant from Star Foundation which remained unused was not returned to the grantor as charity law demands, as investigation has revealed.A former SSNCEF staff, who merely gave his name as Effiong Umoh, told our reporter that Foxcroft who was the intermediary for collection and release of the fund kept 3/4 (which is 75%) of it, pending reports of the first quarter, before the final collapse of SSNCEF"If he's not returned the unused fund to the donor, that means he's lining his pocket as usual with the children money, that's too bad... Even the children who're abandoned at Eket Stadium did not get a dime from it" the ex-SSNCEF staffer decried.As the day closes by, the Briton by the name Mr Gary James Foxcroft and his co-accomplices in Akwa Ibom government employ, are waiting to smile their way to the bank using the name of charity work. This is no doubt, a grand charity racket!
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