The crisis rocking the Federal College of Agricultural Produce Technology (FCAPT), Kano, at the weekend further degenerated as the institution’s governing board and the leadership of the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria (ARCN) issued conflicting orders in separate letters.
The orders which currently hinder smooth administrative running of the college, have also revealed the power tussle between the college’s board headed by Abubakar Wurno, a retired ambassador, and the Garba Sharubutu-led ARCN.
PREMIUM TIMES had earlier reported the alleged illegal appointment of a provost for the college by ARCN and the allegation of forgery levelled against the said provost, Mohammed Gwaram, over a letter addressed to the office of the accountant general of the federation.
Mr Gwaram was said to have written the accountant general without the consent of the board indicating the withdrawal of his earlier interdiction by the board, and requested for the restoration of his full salary.
He was then queried by the board on the legality or otherwise of his action.
Again, board suspends Gwaram
At its three-day 10th statutory meeting which ended on Friday, April 30, the governing board of the college announced the suspension of Mr Gwaram and requested him to appear before an investigative committee set up by the board to probe the development.
In his stead, the board also announced the appointment of the deputy provost, Maryam Ahmad, as the acting provost.
The suspension letter, which was signed on behalf of the board chairman by the acting registrar, Halima Sani, was dated April 29, 2021.
It reads in part; “Sequel to the earlier letter referenced FCAPT/SPR.P0128/VOL. 1 dated 9th March, 2020, in which you were placed on interdiction, I wish to inform you that the Governing Board of Federal College of Agricultural Produce Technology Kano at its 10th Statutory Meeting has suspended you as the Provost of the College, with immediate effect.
“This suspension is in furtherance to the Board’s resolution relating to your alleged offences that borders on gross abuse of office, admitted forgery and perjury and flagrant disobedience of the resolution of the Governing Board.
“This is in line with Public Service Rules 030406. You will remain suspended until the final resolution of the matter.”
Twist as ARCN suspends board, provost, others
In its response to the college’s governing board’s decision to suspend Mr Gwaram, the ARCN leadership issued a letter dated April 30, announcing the suspension of the governing board and the entire management staff.
The letter, which was personally signed by the agency’s executive secretary, Mr Sharubutu, a professor, noted that the action was a step towards addressing the perennial crisis rocking the institution.
The letter reads in part; “Sequel to the prolonged crisis in the College involving the Chairman and Members of the Board, Provost and the Acting Registrar, the Hon. Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development directed the suspension of the chairman and members of the Governing Board, Provost and Acting Registrar with immediate effect.”
It further noted that in line with an extant circular, the most senior academic staff was appointed to oversee the affairs of the college pending the resolution of the crisis.
“In this regard, Dr Alimi Halima Modupeore, a Senior Lecturer and holder of PhD is hereby approved as the Acting Provost while Nuhu Lawal will assume the office of the Acting Registrar. All other structures remain,” the letter added.
Mr Sharubutu also warned all parties to sheathe their swords, warning that failure to heed the advice would attract severe punishment.
Board fires back
Meanwhile, the board of the college has described the ARCN’s intervention as “strange and alarming,” insisting that a ”board of one parastatal has no legal right to suspend the board of another”.
The board noted that it was aware of a subsisting suit at an Abuja court and an order made on September 2, directing parties to maintain status quo ought to be respected.
The board said based on the reasons advanced, the ARCN’s letter should be ignored, adding that the letter is in violation of the subsisting court order.
The letter also reads; “Only the President that appointed the Board members has the power to suspend or discipline the Board and not any other person or authority. The President can do this either directly or through a delegated authority flowing directly from the Presidency.
“In view of the above, we hereby direct that the content of the letter be ignored and or disregarded as it has not been approved by the lawful authority; and the management of the college should continue in its operation without distraction until contrary notice from the Governing Board.”
The board, however, noted that its decisions taken at the 10th statutory meeting be respected by all parties concerned.
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