Wednesday, October 31, 2012

EFCC probes VC over contract award

THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has begun investigations into the tenure of the Vice Chancellor of the Ebonyi State University (EBSU), Prof. Francis Idike, who has been accused of running the university “like a personal fiefdom and whimsical expenditure of funds”.

Also, the university’s chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU-EBSU), says it would protest any attempt to breach due process in the appointment of a new vice chancellor to succeed Idike whose tenure elapses on November 4, 2012.

A source at the EFCC told The Guardian that the commission was investigating allegations of inflation of contracts during his tenure (November 2009-2012). He stressed that the commission has got leads to unwholesome financial dealings in the university.

“It was based on the nature of the discoveries that we have written to the vice chancellor asking him to furnish us with certain documents relating to some contracts, procurements as well as certified true copies of all payment vouchers and E-payment mandates raised for the payment of such contracts,” the source added.

The source further disclosed that some of the documents demanded from Idike included certified true copies of all documents relating to advertisement, bidding, award and acceptance letters of all contracts from 2009 to date, adding that by the time the commission finishes its probe, Nigerians would change their impression about the fight against graft in the country.

Although attempts to reach the VC failed, a worker in his office admitted that the EFCC’s letter asking for documents for investigation activities was received by the institution.

The letter addressed to Idike was signed by Paul Timibushi for the Head of Operations, South East zone, Enugu, and dated October 4, 2012 with reference number CR/3000/EFCC/EN/BF/TB/VOL. 6/389.

The letter entitled, ‘Investigation Activities: Request for Documents’, reads in part: “This commission is investigating a case in which the need to obtain certain information from you has become imperative. In view of the above, you are kindly requested to provide the following list of all contracts/procurements (completed and ongoing) executed by the university from 2009 to date.

“Certified true copies of all documents relating to advertisement, bidding, award and acceptance letters of all contracts from 2009 to date and of all vouchers/E-payment mandates raised for the payment of such contracts”.

Meanwhile, ASUU-EBSU has condemned insinuations in some quarters that Idike, who retired four years ago at the University of Nigeria Nsukka, Enugu campus, would be reappointed after his first four years in office ends next month, saying that such a move would not augur well for the institution. Chairman of ASUU-EBSU, Prof. Emeka Nwakpu, noted that the alleged move by the Governing Council of the institution to reappoint Idike was wrong, saying that the EBSU Law of 2011 has not yet taken effect.

“You have to appoint before you reappoint; no one has been appointed under that law, let alone reappointed. We have an amended law in place since May 2011. Nobody has been appointed on the basis of that law, so why should they be talking about reappointment? The law has not appointed anybody and so it cannot reappoint. The EBSU Law was passed by Ebonyi State House of Assembly,” he contended, adding that the union would soon make a categorical statement on the matter.

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