The Federal Government has inaugurated 10 panels of inquiry for the investigations of allegations of sexual harassment and fraud against governing councils, management as well as academic staff of some universities and polytechnics in the country.
Among the of institutions to be visited by the ad hoc panels are Federal University Dutsin-Ma, Kastina State; Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State; University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State; Federal University, Kashere, Gombe State, and University of Abuja.
Others include University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State; University of Calabar, Cross River State; Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, Edo State; Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State and Yaba College of Technology, Lagos State.
While inaugurating the panel yesterday, Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, said the setting up of the ad-hoc committees was in response to petitions received from different stakeholders within and outside the institutions with varieties of allegations bordering on irregularities, abuse of due process, mismanagement, immorality, fraud and corruption among others.
Adamu said since his assumption of office, the ministry has been flooded with several petitions, some of which needed to be substantiated before sanctions could be applied.
He said: “The ministry decided to set up these 10 ad hoc fact-finding committees in response to petitions received from different stakeholders, within and outside the institutions, with variety of allegations bordering on irregularities, abuse of due process, sexual harassment, fraud and corruption among others.
“In order to get to the root of the matter and ensure that justice is done, and it is seen to be done, we deemed it necessary to verify the authenticity or otherwise of the claims in these petitions. This verification is the crux of this assignment.”
Adamu argued that some of these allegations made against the governing councils have indirectly created mistrust and hostilities within the institutions and have hindered smooth conduct of academic activities to the detriment of students.
While the investigations would last, Adamu said the panel members were at liberty to request for any officer, official document or records or relevant sources that can help the course of their investigations.
The panels which have a 10-day time frame to turn up their recommendations, would among other issues, investigate all allegations contained in the petitions against the institutions or individuals.
They would also determine the veracity of the claims and counter-claims by considering the circumstances and talking to as many witnesses as possible, including meeting writers of some of the petitions with a view to establishing the basis of their claims.
Part of the mandate of the panels also was to investigate the application of funds, particularly the special grants and loans meant for specific projects, to investigate the procedure of contracts awards, admission processes as well as appointments and promotions and to recommend appropriate penalties in each case.
The minister, however, cautioned that petitioners would henceforth be made to swear to affidavit noting that most times such petitions only send government officials on a wild goose chase.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Education, Folashade Yemi-Esan, in her remarks, said the allegations were far too weighty that government cannot afford to sweep them under the carpet.
“Since the coming on board of the present administration, the hope of Nigerians for government, transparency and due process has been rekindled. It is this hope that made concerned Nigerians to draw the attention of government to some alleged untoward conduct in some of our tertiary institutions,” she said.
The Vice Chancellor of the Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State, Prof. Hilary Edeoga, had been accused of mismanagement, flagrant abuse of office and corruption.
Edeoga was also accused of allegedly extorting money from students through the payment of compulsory hostel fees, intra-campus shuttle service fees and double payment for Information Communication Technology (ICT).
In University of Calabar, a Professor of Law, Cyril Ndifor, was accused of raping an undergraduate at the Law Faculty.
Prof. Ndifor has been suspended by the university management.
In Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, the Rector, Dr. Margaret Kudirat Ladipo, was alleged of financial recklessness, receiving N5 million monthly as security votes, and awarding contracts without due process.
Prof. Magaji Garba of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria is the chairman of panel of inquiry for the Federal University Dutsin-Ma, Kastina State. Other members are Mahmud Sanusi Rafindadi, Rabiu Hassan Makera, Oyerinde Adeola and LM Farouk as members.
For the Micheal Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State, the panel has Prof. Popoola of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Prof Kayode Soremekun, Chief Philip Ukaonu, Uba Ibrahim and Maryam Ali as members.
Prof Sadiq Isa Radda of the Bayero University, Kano will serve as chairman of the panel for the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State. Other members are Prof. Mahmud Lawan, Dr. Emmanuel Akponobong, Ilyasu Rakiya, Engr. Abraham Chindusu.
Federal University, Kashere, Gombe State has Prof. Sulaiman Abdul ABTU, Bauchi as chairman while Prof. F.N. Madubuike, Prof. B.G. Nworgu, Ulu Awa Arua and John Mairafi Ahmadu as members
University of Abuja has Prof. Toyin Olorode of Ekiti State University as chairman while Sani Maikudi, Prof. Victor Amen, Adeoye Adeleye and Agnes Bamgbala as members.
University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State has Prof. Godwin Nsofor of the Federal University of Technology, Minna as chairman, Prof. Ikenna Onyido, Prof. Haruna Abdu, Bashir Bello and Dr. Chinelu Nwosu as members.
Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, Edo State has Prof. Andrew Haruna of ABU as chairman, Dr. Roxy Momoh, Prof. George Nnona, Folorunso Isaac and Bamamu I.B as members.
Federal Polytechnic Oko, Anambra State has Prof. Sech Accra Jaja of University of Port Harcourt as chairman, Prof. A. I Tanko, Prof. Madueke Iwe, Dr. Kareem Olawale and Abubakar Moh’d as members
Yaba College of Technology, Lagos has Prof. Idowu Awopetu of OAU Ile-Ife as chairman, Prof. Ngozi Nnamani, Dr. Sikiru Eniola, Ngubane Gladys and Lawal Hafis as members.
University of Calabar, Cross River State has Dr. Salihu Abubakar of ABU, Zaria as chairman, Prof. Sani Abba, Prof. Greg Wajiga, Uba Uche and BC Odum as members.
Meanwhile, the Kano zone of Academic Staff Union of University (ASUU) has called on the minister and other well-meaning Nigerians to investigate what it called the administrative impunity of Vice Chancellor of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia State, Prof. Hilary Edeaga.
Addressing newsmen yesterday at ASUU’s office in Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State, the Zonal Coordinator, Prof. Rabiu Nasir alleged that apart from the pathetic situation of the staff and students of the University, 30 out 34 those who were elevated professors did not meet the provision and qualification.
Nasir alleged that the elevation of the academic staff by the VC was done in total negation of laid down rules and procedures guiding appointments and promotions in the university system.
According to him, apart from meeting the requirements on qualifications and publications, the tenure for elevation to the next rank is set between two to three years in Nigerian universities, and five years from Senior Lecturer to Professor, all which the new appointees did not meet.
Nasir alleged that 30 out of the 34 appointments that were made, totally disregarded laid down standards, as the appointees are not suitably qualified for the positions.
He accused the VC of promoting his cronies within the same year of their last promotions.
The zonal coordinator listed having PhD in relevant field, 12 years post qualification experience, evidence of teaching/research experience in a university or institution of similar standing and evidence of scholarly publications in learned journals as some of the qualifications that can qualify one for such appointment.
“The VC went ahead to appoint about 30 applicants to the rank of professor without recourse to these provisions, in a scandalous and weird manner, and without any sense of decency known to be associated with scholars,” he alleged.