Margaret Atere, Chairperson of Akure South Local Government in Ondo State, has been accused of involvement in an illegal women empowerment programme.
SaharaReporters gathered that Atere collected the sum of N1,000 from 100 women in the 11 wards of Akure South.
She was said to have collected the money using Governor Rotimi Akeredolu’s name as a front, as the programme was targeted at empowering indigent persons and members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ondo State.
The empowerment programme has caused uproar among the women, who accused Atere of duping them of amounts running into millions of naira.
Findings showed that the women were asked to fill a form, with a promise to get back to them.
However, many of the women who filled the forms said nothing has been heard from the local government chairman ever since.
One of the women from Ward 10 in Akure, who preferred not to be named, said visits to the local government on the state of the programme yielded no result.
"They asked us to pay N1,000 each for an empowerment programme and also gave us forms to fill. We filled the form about four months ago and returned it.
"We also paid the money they asked from us and since then, we have not got any feedback from her and anytime we go to her office to make enquiries, they keep ‘posting’ us.
"We are all tired and we have concluded that we were duped, because when they came, we gave them money and they kept assuring us of benefitting from the empowerment programme.
"As we talk to you, nothing has been done, although I have vowed that I will get back all my money anytime I see that man from the council who gave me the form to fill.
"I will hold down the man and force him to return my money because all these things have been happening for a long time and we have been keeping quiet about it,” she said.
Another trader, who is into fashion designing and a member of the APC said: “They ‘sweet-tongued’ us to pay for the empowerment programme”.
The trader, who also preferred not to be named, complained bitterly about what she described as “illegal collections” aside the N1,000 paid for the form.
"In fact, we regret voting for this corrupt APC government and I am disappointed in myself being a member of the party in Ondo State.
"Just imagine! It has been up to three different people who have been here to collect money from me for the so-called empowerment programme.
"They came here three times and they also threatened that they would close my shops if I do not pay.
"We have not seen any empowerment programme, while nothing has been said concerning the form they gave us and the money they collected.”
SaharaReporters’ efforts to get reach Atere on the allegation proved abortive, as calls put to her mobile line were not picked up. A text message was later sent to her line, which she had not responded to, at the time of this report.