The management of Lagos State University (LASU) has denied it diverted N198 million from the pension fund of its staff to purchase luxury vehicles, despite multiple official memos issued by the university’s Governing Council, its highest decision-making body, clearly showing it did.
The university management was reacting to a PREMIUM TIMES investigation which revealed that it illegally withdrew a total of N689 million in March and October from a staff pension/escrow account purportedly to bankroll two accreditation exercises but diverted N198 million to purchase luxury vehicles for some of the top staff.
The university management had ignored multiple attempts by PREMIUM TIMES over two weeks, prior to the publication of the story to explain the withdrawals.
In fact, a week before the story was published, the management pleaded for an additional 48-hours to react to the findings of the investigations but still did not send any reaction.
In a statement released on Monday evening, the university spokesperson, Ademola Adekoya, said at no time did the university borrow from the staff pension to finance its accreditation expenses.
Mr Adekoya claimed that the N474 million used for the accreditation was from its 2018 budget. The statement was however curiously silent about the source of the N215 million it withdrew in March for the first accreditation exercise in June.
But official memos from the university’s governing council and its bursar, obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, show that Mr Adekoya’s claim is false.
A March 8, 2018 memo with reference number LASU/CM/R.102 signed by the former registrar of the university, Akinwunmi Lewis, clearly said that money for the June accreditation was a “temporary borrowing” from the “university pension/escrow investment.”
“In view of the pending accreditation exercise and the time constraint, the university sought and obtained the executive approval of the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council for temporary borrowing of the sum of two hundred and fifteen million naira [N215,000,000.00] from the university’s pension/escrow investment in order to cover the expenses of the forthcoming accreditation exercise which would be paid back from the approved grant from the Lagos State Government, when paid to the university,” the internal memo stated.
Another memo by the governing council dated October 5, 2018, signed by one Mustapha R.M for the school registrar also described the N474 million used for the October accreditation as “temporary borrowing”.
The internal memo was titled: Decision of Governing Council on Ratification of the pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council’s Executive Approval on Temporary Use of Invested University Pension Fund for 2018 Accreditation Exercise.
“In view of the impending Accreditation Exercise and time constraint, the university sought and obtained the Executive Approval of the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Governing Council for temporary borrowing of the sum of Four Hundred and Seventy-Four Million naira (N474,000,000.00) from the university Pension Investment Fund in order to cover the expenses on the forthcoming accreditation exercise which would be paid back together with the interest which ought to accrue, immediately upon receipt of fund from the State Government.”
PREMIUM TIMES also obtained three different memos written by the school bursar showing how the N198 million used to purchase the luxury vehicles was released. We also have an invoice with a description of the vehicles purchased.
Working with the state government
Mr Adekoya said he sought approval from the Office of the Special Adviser on Education, who is in charge of tertiary education in the state. But when reached by PREMIUM TIMES prior to the publishing of the investigation, Obafela Bank-Olemoh, the special adviser, declined comment and actually encouraged this reporter to go ahead with the story.
“I am not going to respond to that. I don’t work in LASU,” he said.
“My brother write your story. I am not going to respond to anything. You are writing a story about LASU, reach out to LASU and let them respond to you,” said Mr Bank-Olemoh.