In their efforts to check the menace of corruption, Nigeria’s anti-graft agencies appear to be paying attention to happenings in the ivory towers where administrators have been accused of financial scandals.
From vice chancellors to pro-chancellors and bursars, various officials of major Nigerian universities have been accused of corruption with some of them already being prosecuted.
PREMIUM TIMES takes a look at four of the prominent cases.
- N800 million FUNAAB alleged fraud
The anti-graft EFCC is currently prosecuting three top officials of the Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, FUNAAB, for their alleged roles in an N800 million scandal.
The Vice Chancellor, Olusola Oyewole, the Pro-Chancellor, Adeseye Ogunlewe, and the Bursar, Moses Ilesanmi, were arraigned in November last year on an 18-count charge of financial misappropriation at High Court 6 in Abeokuta, Ogun State.
The embattled vice chancellor was later reported to have refunded N6.5 million to the anti-graft agency, out of the funds mismanaged.
Investigation by PREMIUM TIMES showed that Mr. Oyewole refunded N2.5 million on December 6 from the illegal allowances he allegedly collected to finance his daughter’s wedding. Four other staff of the university also refunded a total of N4 million from similar illegal allowances.
A spokesperson of the EFCC zonal office in Ibadan, Ayo Oyewole, confirmed that some money was returned by suspects in the matter. The monies returned so far are, however, a far cry from the N800 million that the EFCC says Mr. Oyewole and others mismanaged.
The accused officials have all pleaded not guilty to the charges and are currently on bail.
- The FUTA alleged fraud
The EFCC, on February 14 in Akure arraigned the Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, FUTA, Gregory Daramola, over allegations of fraud to the tune of N24 million.
The vice chancellor was arraigned alongside the school’s bursar, Ayodeji Oresegun, for offenses of misappropriation of public funds, misuse of office, and obtaining money under false pretence among others.
While Mr. Daramola is facing a nine-count charge, his co-accused is facing a two-count charge of mishandling unpaid funds and fixing funds without due process.
According to the charges, the vice chancellor and the bursar conspired “on or about 21 January, 2015 with intent to defraud to wit illegally place on fixed deposit the money of the Federal University of Technology Akure in a WEMA bank account No 1300002035.”
They were also accused of abuse of office.
The accused pleaded not guilty to the charges and are currently on bail.
- UNICAL bursar’s alleged fraud
The University of Calabar in August last year suspended the bursar, Peter Agi, over allegations of fraud, forgery and threat to life.
Following the development, an inquiry was immediately set up by the management of the institution to look into issues. In a letter of suspension signed by the Registrar, Moses Abang, the management of the institution alleged that the bursar had been found guilty of impersonating the vice-chancellor on the e-payment platform of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), among others.
The Nigerian police has also said it is investigating Mr. Peter Agi, over financial dealings involving his office.
- The OAU Vice Chancellors
The case of the Obafemi Awolowo University is unique as both the current vice chancellor and his predecessor are being investigated for alleged fraud.
The EFCC in February invited a former Vice-Chancellor of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Bamitale Omole, over allegations of fraud levelled against him by academic staff of the university.
PREMIUM TIMES had on April 20, 2016, reported that the budget monitoring committee of the local chapter of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, accused the management of the university under Mr. Omole of mismanaging N3.5 billion intervention fund released to the university for upgrade of facilities.
The Union had accused the management of the institution under Mr. Omole of expending the sum on hostel renovation and construction of new lecture theatres without observing due process and transparency.
The funds were part of the N100 billion released by the Federal Government in 2013 to universities in response to agitations by ASUU for upgrade of facilities at the tertiary institutions in Nigeria.
Weeks before Mr. Omole was invited, the Acting Vice-Chancellor of the university, Anthony Elujoba, and the university’s bursar, Aderonke Akeredolu, were in December invited for questioning by the EFCC for allegedly diverting N1.4 billion.
They were quizzed by the anti-graft agency over the alleged payment of ‘unapproved’ hazard allowance to the institution’s workers. PREMIUM TIMES learnt that a petition was written by an unnamed OAU staff to the EFCC, who complained about the allowances.
The allowances were reportedly sourced from the university’s endowment fund, which is usually dedicated for projects.
Students and staff of the university, however, defended the new vice chancellor, saying he was transparent in his dealings unlike his predecessor.
Reacting to two of the cases being prosecuted, the Civil Society Network Against Corruption, CSNAC, asked the Ministry of Education to suspend the FUTA and FUNAAB vice chancellors.
In a petition addressed to the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, on Thursday, the group’s chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, said the continued involvement of the two indicted administrators in the activities of the universities may make a mockery of the current administration’s dedication to the fight against corruption.
“We thereby demand for the Ministry’s intervention at ensuring the immediate, urgent and indefinite suspension of the Vice Chancellor of Federal University of Technology, Akure (FUTA) and Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB); Mr. Olushola Oyewole and Mr. Adebiyi Daramola respectively,” Mr. Suraju said.