Ebonyi artisans decry diversion of FG survival funds to non-members


By Victor Nwegede

...Call for urgent redress

The Artisan Association of Nigeria, Ebonyi State Chapter has raised alarm and condemned the alleged diversion of the Federal government survival fund/grant meant for the members.

Chairman, Artisans Association of Nigeria, Ebonyi State Chapter, Pastor Eze Friday Nwaze.

The State Chairman of the Association, Pastor Eze Friday Nwaze on Sunday at Abakaliki said his members were shocked when they found out that the fund meant for Ebonyi artisans was diverted to the non-members by the suspected fraudulent agents who did their data capturing in the state. 

NATIONAL PANEL learnt that Federal Government launched MSME artisans survival fund programme under the care of Vice President, Femi Osinbajo under the Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment last year to empower artisans across the country, with a certain requirement demanded of them before their data collection.

Pastor Nwaze said, Artisans Association of Nigeria, Ebonyi State Chapter as an incorporated association in the country with the Corporation Affairs Commission, uniting all the artisans in the state was duly considered and over 2000 members were captured by one Mr. Stephen Eze, the desk officer for the programme. 

He said that non-artisans have started receiving the survival fund whereas none of the over 2000 captured members including the officials got paid of the grant till date.

The Chairman said that the members of the association were not comfortable about the situation, and have vowed to protest heavily against the  diversion of their fund in the state by suspected fraudulent agents who did their capturing.

The accused Desk Officer, Mr Stephen Eze addressing the Ebonyi artisans during the capturing exercise in the state.

According to him, the association had already petitioned against the ugly development by writing  a letter tagged, "unlawful exclusion/fraudulent diversion of artisans survival fund/grant meant for artisans association of Nigeria, Ebonyi State Chapter beneficiaries and impersonation by Mr Stephen Eze and appeal for urgent redress" to the  Ebonyi State Commissioner for Human Capital Development and Monitoring, Mrs Ann Aligwe, and asked for her urgent  intervention to reclaim the diverted fund.

The letter dated 10th December 2020 and endorsed by the state Artisans' Chairman, Pastor Eze Friday Nwaze and his Secretary, Ugochi Crescent Nnadozie, stated that, the Artisans in Ebonyi carried out the profiling in the 13 local government areas in the state, based on the Federal government's directive through the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Agency (SMEDA) about the programme.

The letter further stated that "after our profiling, a comprehensive list of all the artisans in Ebonyi State were compiled and sent through the office of Human Capital Development and Monitoring Ministry in the state for onward transmission to the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development in line with Federal Government directive."

The Chairman also explained that, the compiled list of his members was later received and approved by the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, and Mr Stephen Eze was appointed as a desk officer who solely took in charge of capturing the artisans with the approved list of his members in the state.

Pastor Nwaze noted that on 12th and 13th November 2020, about 1,865 artisans in the approved list were captured by Mr Stephen Eze, while the second phase of the capturing held on 14th November 2020, about 840 of his members were successfully captured by the same desk officer.

He said the total number of artisans who were successfully captured as the beneficiaries for the Federal government artisans and survival fund from the state was 2,705. 

The association in the letter accused the desk officer of bouncing the captured artisans from the state, thereby picking his cronies who are non-artisans, that have started receiving payment instead of those whose names were initially contained in the approved list.

Parts of the letter read: "That ordinarily, after capturing of the artisans by Mr Stephen Eze, he would have sent the successfully captured to the Federal Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development for onward payment.

"That thereafter, Mr Stephen Eze refused, neglected to return and capture the remaining members of about 500 who were not initially, even though their names contained in the list, upon much placed on him by us.

"That we were surprised when we started hearing from different sources that artisans survival fund has  been paid to some states including Ebonyi.

"That we diligently commenced a thorough and discreet investigation and discovered to our greatest dismay that the desk officer, Mr Stephen Eze abandoned the approved list of artisans in Ebonyi State and was secretly going about different places in our state, particularly Afikpo, his home town convincing people who are neither artisans nor members of our association that he was meant to capture them, for a fee of N10,000 and with an agreement that when the survival fund is released such beneficiaries will remit N10,000 to him.

"That Mr Stephen Eze apart from impersonating our association after about one week of capturing us, went ahead to capture non-artisans from different locations in Ebonyi State particularly Afikpo where he captured over 400 non-artisans.

"That Mr Stephen Eze fraudulently replaced, exchanged and substituted the already successfully captured artisans of our association with non-artisans from his home town and other parts of the state after collecting money from them."

The association said that both Federal and state ministries with SMDAN were deceived into believing Mr Stephen Eze was representing, working  for the interest of artisans association in Ebonyi. 

The Chairman also stated that the non-artisans who were illegally captured by Mr Stephen Eze have started receiving bank alerts for artisans survival fund/grant by the Federal government, whereas none of his authentic members numbering over 2000 captured by the desk officer has been paid including their officials.

He equally said his office contacted Mr Stephen Eze on 12th November 2020 to explain why none of the over 2000 artisans approved by the Federal government captured by him has not been paid the survival grant but he could not give a satisfactory reason. 

He said the association therefore, appealed to the relevant authourities both in the state and federal governments to investigate this matter by arresting Mr Stephen Eze and those involved in the fraud, saying that the members would be glad if the suspect (s) are brought to justice through criminal prosecution in a law court.

Pastor Nwaze said the association also appealed to the authorities to use their good offices to remedy and rectify the situation with aim of ensuring that the registered and compiled list of Artisans from Ebonyi State are paid their entitlements of the Federal government artisans survival fund/grant.


  1. That guy Stephen Eze is a first class criminal and must be arrested and prosecuted now. Artisan Association of Nigeria, Ebonyi State Chapter should as a matter of urgency sue him now. He moved around Abakaliki and collected #1000 from non Artisans and captured them. Some of them are not paid either.


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