Five months after PREMIUM TIMES reported that the Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission, Tor Ujah, was under probe for alleged fraud, the Nigerian government has approved his sack from office.
Following allegations of financial misappropriation and abuse of office brought against Mr Ujah, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, had directed that Mr Ujah’s tenure as NCPC’s boss be investigated in October 2018.
According to a copy of the directive, the SGF had received reports that funds were “mismanaged” at the commission.
“The Secretary to the Government of the Federation is in receipt of a report, alluding to the fact that the funds of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission are being mismanaged,” a document signed by the SGF’s legal adviser, Emmanuel Akissa, said.
It added that following the information, the SGF would investigate 10 different payment vouchers issued between 2017 and 2018 on behalf of the commission.
Although the SGF spokesperson, Willi Bassey, declined comments after confirming the investigations to PREMIUM TIMES, multiple sources had told this newspaper Mr Ujah was being investigated for allegedly diverting $229,000 meant for Nigerian pilgrims’ visit to Israel, Greece and Rome in July 2017.
The sources also told PREMIUM TIMES that the ES was also suspected to have diverted $103,000 in 2018, among other allegations.
In a statement signed by Mr Bassey on Tuesday, the commission said Mr Ujah’s appointment had been terminated.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the immediate termination of the appointment of Rev. Tor Ujah, as the Executive Secretary, Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC).
“This is in line with the provision of Section 4, Sub-Section 3 of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission Act,” the state said.
The section cited above states that: “The Chairman or any members of the Commission may be removed from office by the President if the President is satisfied that it is not in the interest of the Commission or the public that the member should continue in office.”
According to the SGF statement, the director of administration in the commission, Esther Kwaghe, was to take over from Mr Ujah pending the appointment of the new ES.
“Rev. Ujah has, therefore, been directed to hand over to Mrs Esther Kwaghe, Director of Administration in the Commission, who is to oversee the Office, pending the appointment of a Substantive Executive Secretary.
“In a related development, President Muhammadu Buhari has directed the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to work out an appropriate framework for the operation of offshore account maintained by the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission, and all other Federal Government Agencies in order to streamline their operations.
Mr Ujah was appointed ES in May 2016. According to the NCPC’s enabling law, the ES was supposed to serve five years in office.
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