By Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja
The Presidential Amnesty Programme (PAP) has debunked media reports that it failed to fulfill its responsibility of paying the outstanding fees and stipends to 25 students in Turkey under its scholarship programme.
The students schooling at the European University of Lefke, Turkish Republic of North Cyprus, had last week decried the manner in which officials of the programme allegedly abandoned them in Turkey.
But reacting to the students’ claim, the PAP, through its media consultant, Mr. Owei Lakemfa, told THISDAY at the weekend that there was no substance in the position former, adding that the leader of the protesting students, Ombo Contterell, and three others had actually graduated between February and March last year.
Giving further insight, he said 75 students were sponsored to the Turkish university in question, but were later recalled home due to ‘some unfortunate situations there.’
According to him, while the rest were placed in universities in Nigeria, only 26 went back to Turkey to continue with their education, stressing that of the number that went back, one Miss Horsfall Regal Adokiye finished her Masters shortly after return in 2014.
This, Lakemfa stated, left 25 of the students in Turkey, adding that four others, including Ombo Contterell, Anabraba Boma, Amaran Tari, and Hart Queeneth graduated early last year, but continued to draw their allowances as they did not make their graduation known to the Amnesty Office.
He said following the discovery about their status as students who had graduated, the Amnesty Office subsequently stopped the payment of their fees and allowances, but has continued to pay the remaining 21 students still schooling in Turkey
Providing documents to back up his claim, Lakemfa said the remaining 21 students were paid $35,000 or an equivalent of N6, 930,000 being in-training allowance for September-October, 2015.
He also disclosed that the same 21 students had been paid for February 2016, the sum of $2.9 million at an exchange rate of N310 to a dollar, adding that this could be confirmed from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which remitted money.
Lakemfa said at inception, vendors by the name, Ruma Institute, were used to remit monies to the students, but the Amnesty Office had to stop the practice due to some logistics problems.
This, according to him, paved the way for direct payment to the students, pointing out that since his assumption of office as the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of PAP, Brig-Gen. Paul Boroh (rtd), had met the obligations to beneficiaries of the Amnesty programme within and outside the country.