By Henry Gabriel –

The Board of the Federal Research Institute, Oshodi in Lagos has been given a 14-day ultimatum to either sack its acting Director, Chima Igwe or face legal action over allegation that he forged his PhD certificate.

Doubts have continued to trail the authenticity of the PhD academic
certificate held by the Acting Director General, Dr Chima Igwe.

A petition sent to the Chairman, Governing Board of the Institute,
Alhaji Ibrahim Dan Azumi Gwarzo, by leading Nigerian anti-corruption
group, Human and Environmental Develilment Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) said the Board of the Institute needed to take decisive action by
sacking the Acting DG.

Igwe’s PhD was said to have been obtained from a University located in
Benin Republic.

A copy of the protest letter signed by HEDA Chairman, Mr Olanrewaju
Suraju, was also sent to President Muhammadu Buhari.

There were media reports late last year suggesting that Igwe’ s academic
PhD qualification was in doubt.

Chima Igwe was accused of failing to present his PhD degree which he
claimed to have acquired from Universite Nationale du Benin (now
Universite d’Abomey- Calavi) in the Benin Republic amidst allegations
that he had received several promotions based on the purported degree.

HEDA cited reports that indicated  that the only evidence of the
purported PhD for 18 years is an attestation letter and that the issue
became contentious when the tenure of the immediate past Director-General of FIIRO, Prof Gloria Elemo, ended and there was the  need for a new head of the Institute.

HEDA said it was aware that the governing board of the institute, while
shopping for a replacement, called for the files of senior officers of
the agency and Mr Igwe, being the most senior was to be next in line.

It noted that the controversy then resurfaced when he could not produce
the PhD certificate in his file to support his claim.

According to media reports, attempts were made to reach out to the
university on the issue without any confirmation of Igwe’s certificate
inspite of visits to Faculte Des Sciences et Techniques (FAST) where Mr
Igwe claimed to have bagged the PhD degree.

“We follow up the investigations by the Independent Corrupt Practices
and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), which has been investigating the matter but surprised to discover that the ICPC appear to have abandoned the investigation” Suraju stated.

HEDA listed demands included that immediate action be taken to commence
the swift and urgent disciplinary action against the Acting Director-General, through his suspension, due to the reopening of investigation as confirmed by ICPC, as the Civil Service rules are clear on this position. That the immediate past DG should be reported by the Institute to the
appropriate authorities for disciplinary action to be taking against her
for violation of the extant rule guiding her handing over of power as DG
at the expiration of her tenure.

It also requested that the next in seniority to Mr Igwe be appointed
the acting Director General of the Institute pending the appointment of
a substantive Director General/CEO.

Earlier reports indicated that the ICPC had reopened the investigation
into the controversy in the face of allegations that he, Igwe, was
fraudulently promoted.

HEDA said the Director-General being the Chief Executive of the Institute is in a position subject to and bound by the Federal Civil Service Rules.

“The allegations leveled against the Acting Director-General, Mr Igwe,
is such that is within the definition of Serious Misconduct as defined
in the Federal Government Civil Service Rules in Rule 030401 which
defines Serious misconduct as a specific act of very serious wrongdoing
and improper behavior which is inimical to the image of the service and
which can be investigated and if proven, may lead to dismissal”

HEDA also cited Chapter 3, Section 4, 030402 (a-w) indicating the acts
constitute serious misconduct and out of the lot.

Suraju listed the violations of Igwe to include as in Rule 030402 (a)
Falsification of records and (b) Suppression of records.

HEDA stated: “We hereby reiterate our stance that Rule 030406 which
states that suspension shall apply where a prima facie case, the nature
of which is serious, has been established against an officer and it is
considered necessary in the public interest that he/she should forthwith
be prohibited from carrying out his/her duties and pending investigation
into the misconduct, the Federal Civil Service Commission or the
Permanent Secretary/Head of Extra-Ministerial Office (if within his/her
delegated powers) shall forthwith suspend him/her from the exercise of
the powers and functions of his/her office and from the enjoyment of
his/her emolument.”

The group said in its earlier letter of protest to the Honourable
Minister of Science and Technology, he had instructed the Permanent
Secretary to direct the immediate past DG of FIIRO to hand over to the
most senior director in line with SGF circular.

“Mr. Chairman, this same circular (Ref. No. SGF. 50/s.II/C.2/268) was
quoted in your letter which the Honourable Minister had only acceded to
your request for the outgone DG to hand over to another Director in
Acting capacity, except Mr. Igwe who, according to your letter, “.. has
issues with his Ph.D certificate which he is yet to submit seventeen
years after submitting a letter of attestation to completion of Ph.D
degree, even after he had been given ultimatum to submit….” .

HEDA said the Secretary to the Government of the Federation in a
circular  was unambiguous concerning the succession of the out going
head of agencies of government such as FIIRO.

HEDA noted: “According to the circular, dated 4th December, 2017 and
personally signed by Mr. Boss Mustapha, it was stated in paragraph 2 as
follows: “Furthermore, pending the appointment of a substantive Head of
Extra-Ministerial Department/ Director General/Chief Executive officer
of Parastatals, Agency, Commission and Government owned company, the
outgoing Chief Executive Officer must handover to the next most Senior
Officer of the establishment, as long as the officer does not have any
pending disciplinary matter. Outgoing heads of Extra-Ministerial
Department/Director General/Chief Executive officer of Parastatals,
Agencies, Commission and Government owned companies, are not allowed the
discretion of choosing the officer to whom they will handover.”

HEDA demanded the immediate action of the Board to act in accordance
that the Federal Government Circular and Directive of the Minister
within two weeks or the group will seek legal action against the board
and the institute.

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