Lawrence Igbinoghene Okoro, a prominent supporter of Peter Obi and member of the Labour Party, has been exposed for staging a donation scam involving the invention of a fake soldier friend who purportedly had a baby in absentia and was struggling to meet his financial obligations.
Mr Okoro published on Twitter images of a conversation he purportedly had with his friend in which he lamented his situation as a member of the armed forces and the inability to witness the birth of his latest child as he was drafted to the northern region of the country for service.
The fictitious friend, named Jide, then sent an image of the said child, a baby girl, to Lawrence Okoro in the conversation as proof of his claims. Okoro immediately began to solicit funds for the nonexistent friend, with multiple internet users donating to the provided account.
Nigerian Soldiers Are Suffering & They Need Help.
My Soldier friend had this conversation with me today.We met in school and he was one of the brightest brains in my department.
He's been fighting in the Northeast for 3years now. pic.twitter.com/rxwi8QCaWM
— Lawrence I. Okoro ( Sir Law ) (@LawrenceOkoroPG) August 2, 2023
However, the first crack in the story appeared when sceptical users, who noted Okoro’s notoriety for fraud, ran a check on the photo of the said baby for its source and veracity. The check revealed that it was an old photo uploaded to the internet a long time ago and could not be the latest member of the family of Okoro’s invented friend.
— Ikwa Afang (@Tyek000n) August 3, 2023
When the discrepancy was brought to the notice of Lawrence Okoro, he tried to lay the blame for the dishonesty at the feet of the fictitious friend whom he promptly accused of betraying their friendship. He also claimed to only know the friend as ‘Jide’ despite previously asserting that they went to school together and that he was familiar with his wife whom he also spoke with on the phone to affirm the birth.
Okoro has since apologized for the fraud even though he continues to deny responsibility. He has requested account details of those who made donations for refunds. But his denial, even in the face of overwhelming evidence, has angered several internet users who insist he must provide contact details of his so-called friend and wife for direct confrontation over the fraud. Okoro has declined the request, likely to avoid exposing the fact that it was all a sham he orchestrated to claim public funds.
Okoro previously announced plans to contest election in Edo State on the platform of the Labour Party in 2024. This has led some to speculate that the donation scam may be a ploy to build a financial war chest to fund his electoral ambitions. More so, donation scam has since been noted as a preferred fraudulent tactic of those allied with the Labour Party.
Aisha Yesufu, one of the loud campaigners of the Labour Party in the last election, has equally faced questions over her management of several public fundraisers she did in the name of the party. A critic described her as ‘Hushpuppi in Hijab’, implying that she had the same morals as convicted cybercriminal who preyed on the trust and naivety of others to rob them of their money and valuable, Ramon ‘Hushpuppi’ Abbas.