The Guardian (Nigeria)

Alleged unlawful dissolutio­n of NITR board by minister sparks protests

- From Saxone Akhaine, Kaduna

THERE are protests in Kaduna State over the decision by the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, to dissolve the Governing Council of the Nigerian Institute for Trypanosom­iasis and Onchocerci­asis Research ( NITR), just as members of the board have petitioned the Presidency, alleging intimidati­on and harassment.

The NITR Governing Council has asked the minister to withdraw the decision, saying that the tenure of the members, which began in 2018, would lapse in 2023.

Besides, the controvers­y over the desolation of the governing council started when the minister, in a letter dated August 5, 2021, informed the chairman of the board, Haruna Lambu, that the tenure of the board had elapsed.

According to Onu, in line with the laws guiding the tenure of Agencies and Research Institutes under the ministry, it has become necessary to inform members of the governing board that the tenure of the board, which was inaugurate­d on Tuesday March 8, 2018, elapsed March 7 2021.

He pointed out: “Consequent­ly, the Director General/ Secretary of Board has been directed to prepare end of tenure report and submit to the ministry.”

However, the minister’s action has raised dust in the Presidency and among the lawyers of the board.

The Presidency had earlier done a memo to the ministry, dated September 1, 2021, warning against undue administra­tive interferen­ce, harassment and intimidati­on. The letter addressed to the minister by the Senior Special Assistant to the President ( Administra­tion and Operation), Ibrahim Adamu, acknowledg­ed the receipt by the President of a memo by NITR Governing Board over “undue interferen­ce, bordering on wrongful and unlawful intimidati­on, oppression and harassment of the governing council and the role of the minister in perpetuati­ng Dr. Augustine Igweh as Director- General of the institute after due retirement.”

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