Against var­sity’s pro­nounce­ment, We have yet to is­sue him a PHD, Benin var­sity in­sists

The Punch - - SPECIAL FEATURES - Sam­son Fo­larin

The In­de­pen­dent Cor­rupt Prac­tices and other Re­lated Of­fences Com­mis­sion has said the act­ing Di­rec­tor General of the Fed­eral In­sti­tute of In­dus­trial Re­search, Oshodi, Dr Chima Igwe, ob­tained a PHD cer­tifi­cate from the Univer­site D’abomey Calavi, Benin Repub­lic.

The spokesper­son for the ICPC, Mrs Rashee­dat Oko­duwa, told our cor­re­spon­dent that the team in­ves­ti­gat­ing Igwe cleared him of wrong­do­ing.

Doc­u­ments ob­tained by The PUNCH re­vealed that the ICPC had al­ready com­mu­ni­cated this de­ci­sion to the Min­istry of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy, the min­istry su­per­vis­ing the in­sti­tute.

Fol­low­ing the ICPC’S clearance, the min­istry also wrote the gov­ern­ing board of FIIRO, say­ing Igwe had a PHD cer­tifi­cate.

In­ves­ti­ga­tion by our cor­re­spon­dent re­vealed that there might be a grand plot to cover up the fraud­u­lent doc­tor­ate, as of­ficers of the Benin Repub­lic var­sity told The PUNCH it never told the Nige­rian au­thor­i­ties that Igwe grad­u­ated.

The PUNCH had in Septem­ber 2019 re­ported that Igwe, more than 17 years after claim­ing to have bagged a doc­tor­ate at Univer­site d’abom­ey­calavi, could not pro­duce a cer­tifi­cate to back his claim.

The 57-year-old was said to have been pro­moted sev­eral times based on a let­ter of at­tes­ta­tion sug­gest­ing he at­tended the school.

The is­sue had be­come con­tentious when the ten­ure of the im­me­di­ate past DG, Prof.glo­ria Elemo, elapsed and there was the need for a new head for the in­sti­tute.

The gov­ern­ing board short­listed Igwe for the po­si­tion be­cause he was the most se­nior of­fi­cer in ac­cor­dance with civil ser­vice rules, un­til it was dis­cov­ered that there was no PHD cer­tifi­cate in his file.

Sev­eral ul­ti­ma­tums given to him to go to the school and get the cer­tifi­cate ended with­out a re­sult, as the board also dis­cov­ered that the is­sue had be­come a sub­ject of in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the ICPC.

The Chair­man of the Gov­ern­ing Board, Al­haji Ibrahim Gwarzo, sub­se­quently wrote the Min­is­ter of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy, Dr Og­bon­naya Onu, stat­ing the fail­ure of Igwe to pro­duce his PHD cer­tifi­cate.

he sought ap­proval for the next most se­nior of­fi­cial to head the agency in act­ing ca­pac­ity pend­ing the ap­point­ment of a sub­stan­tive DG.

Onu, how­ever, de­clined the re­quest and in­sisted that Igwe be ap­pointed the act­ing DG.

After weeks of wait­ing with­out any re­sponse from ICPC on the out­come of its in­ves­ti­ga­tion, The PUNCH cor­re­spon­dent vis­ited Univer­site d’abomey-calavi in Au­gust 2019.

The Deputy Di­rec­tor of the Doc­toral School of Pure and Ap­plied Sciences, Prof. Valen­tine Wotto, who is­sued the at­tes­ta­tion let­ter which Igwe had been parad­ing as proof of his doc­tor­ate, told our cor­re­spon­dent that the act­ing DG did not com­plete his stud­ies.

he spoke on the record in French. Wotto, how­ever, said Igwe had con­tacted the school and de­mand that he con­tinue his stud­ies.

The ICPC, while re­fus­ing to com­ment at the time, promised to make its find­ings pub­lic.

The agency’s spokes­woman, Oko­duwa, later told The PUNCH that Igwe com­pleted the doc­toral pro­gramme.

“Yes, he has the cer­tifi­cate. It is gen­uine,” she told our cor­re­spon­dent on the tele­phone.

Oko­duwa ex­plained that the ICPC had a let­ter from the school to that ef­fect.

The FIIRO spokesman, Chris Olu­muyiwa, and the spokesper­son for the Min­istry of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy, Ab­dul­ganiyu Aminu, re­fused to re­spond to en­quiries from our cor­re­spon­dent on the clearance of Igwe.

A top of­fi­cial of FIIRO, who did not want to be quoted, con­firmed the de­vel­op­ment, ad­ding that the min­istry had writ­ten to the agency.

“We have re­ceived a let­ter from the min­istry that he has been cleared. That is what he (Igwe) has been look­ing for; to get the ICPC to give him a clean bill of health.

With this, the FIIRO board will be over­ruled. Igwe has been trav­el­ling to Abuja for weeks now and at a point, it was like he got a place to stay there. I don’t un­der­stand how at­tend­ing a school equates to grad­u­at­ing from it. This man does not have a cer­tifi­cate and he was cleared,” the source added.

ICPC con­firms non-ex­is­tent cer­tifi­cate

Igwe has been us­ing a let­ter of at­tes­ta­tion of reg­is­tra­tion writ­ten by Wotto as proof of his grad­u­a­tion from Abomey Calavi, as he had no cer­tifi­cate from the school.

how­ever, doc­u­ments is­sued by the ICPC and the Fed­eral Min­istry of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy clear­ing Igwe said he ob­tained a “PHD cer­tifi­cate”.

The ICPC let­ter, dated Septem­ber 11, 2019, and ad­dressed to the Min­is­ter of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy, was ti­tled, ‘Re: Ap­point­ment of an act­ing di­rec­tor-general, Fed­eral In­sti­tute of In­dus­trial Re­search Oshodi with a claimed and un­sub­stan­ti­ated PHD cer­tifi­cate.’

The let­ter, signed by the agency’s Chair­man, Prof. Bo­laji Owasanoye, in­di­cated that the com­mis­sion in its find­ings dis­cov­ered that “Dr Chima Igwe at­tended and ob­tained a PHD cer­tifi­cate from Uni­ver­sity D’abomey

Calavi Repub­lic of Benin….” “Con­se­quently, al­le­ga­tion that he forged his PHD cer­tifi­cate was not sub­stan­ti­ated as it is found that he ob­tained all his cer­tifi­cates in ac­cor­dance with laid pro­ce­dure,” it added.

The Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary, Min­istry of Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy, Bitrus Nabasu, based on the ICPC let­ter, wrote to the chair­man of the FIIRO board in a let­ter dated Oc­to­ber 14, 2019.

Nabasu in the let­ter said de­spite the var­i­ous “pe­ti­tions, in­quiries and news publi­ca­tions” on the con­tro­ver­sial PHD, the ICPC had con­cluded that Igwe had a PHD cer­tifi­cate.

The cover-up

Find­ings by our cor­re­spon­dent re­vealed that the let­ter sent to Abomey-calavi did not ask if

•FIIRO

• Onu

• Igwe

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