Against varsity’s pronouncement, We have yet to issue him a PHD, Benin varsity insists
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.
Findings by our correspondent revealed that the letter sent to Abomey-calavi did not ask if