Goodwin Tsa, Abuja
A group has called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Education not to appoint Prof Innocent Ujah as Vice Chancellor of the Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo, Benue State.
The group, Coalition Against Corruption and Related Offences (CACRO) made the call in a statement signed by its National Coordinator, Dr Kolawole Oladejo.
It predicated it’s position on allegations that Ujah was sacked as Director General of the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research, Yaba, Lagos, for fraud and corruption.
CACRO equally urged the Nigeria Medical Association to disqualify Ujah from contesting for the office of its national president to save it from future embarrassment.
The statement reads, “On 20th of November, 2015, a Nigerian leading investigative newspaper, SaharaReporters, exposed one Prof Innocent Ujah for alleged fraud and nepotism. This same professor today wants to be Vice Chancellor of a newly established Federal University of Health Sciences, Otukpo, and as well contesting for the position of national president of NMA.
“These allegations were based on a petition seen by the newspaper which accused Prof Innocent Ujah, then the Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research of nepotism, fraud, financial recklessness, and abuse of office among other offences by some “concerned NIMR staff”.
“The accusations listed were substantiated by several documents attached to the petition including invoices, financial sheets, employment documents, and receipts.
“In order to substantiate the allegation of nepotism, the petitioners attached a list of recently hired staff, CVs, and acceptance letters. The petitioners alleged that Mr Ujah hired his sister, Patricia Onyemowo Agbo, as the Assistant Chief Administrative Officer, despite being unqualified for the position.
“The petitioners not only question her relationship with Mr Ujah but also claim that her academic qualifications are not suited for her role. A copy of Mrs Agbo’s CV clearly indicates she only possessed an MBA Finance, a degree not suited for the Assistant Chief Administrative Officer position.
“In addition, she listed Mr Ujah as a reference on her CV suggesting a conflict of interest with the Director General. Finally, there is the matter of the alleged backdating of her employment which the petitioners claim must be investigated.
“Several of the documents provided pertain to contracts awarded by Mr Ujah as DG of NIMR. The petitioners allege that these contracts were artificially inflated to allow himself and the contractors to skim money from the NIMR bursary.
“One example is an invoice for 296 pounds of Thailand rice and 20 pounds vegetable oil. The contractor, JohnWells Global Concept Venture, was paid N14,950 per pound of rice amounting to a total of N4.4m.
“Petitioners also claim that Mr Ujah utilizes contractors from Jos, where he used to live and work, in order to steal more money through kickbacks. The petitioners claim “(Mr. Ujah) is fond of paying exorbitant consulting fees, in millions of naira, to these contractors. The ownership and board of directors of these contractors used to launder money out of the institute through overblown project and contract cost needs to be investigated.
“The petitioners specifically listed: DP Nigeria Ltd., Bernas Investment Ltd., A and B Evergreen Global Ventures, Omalobo Nigeria Enterprises; Goga Consults, HL Communications Ltd., Crossgate Design Associates, and Marafa Ventures as contracts needing further scrutiny by the EFCC and other authorities.
“All these documents also alleged ghost projects being used to siphon money from NIMR, including 4 million naira expense for a generator which was new and needed no maintenance according to the petitioners. Additionally, “a payment of two million naira (N2,000,000) was made for the supply of diesel, which was neither requested nor supplied.
“The staff at NIMR request in their documents that the evidence they are providing be properly investigated by the appropriate authorities in order to establish whether there is any wrongdoing on the part of Mr. Ujah. The request that the EFCC and Office of the President look into the financial crimes they allege are being committed at NIMR.”