Panel uncovers how FUPRE officials steal money

Emma Amaize
13 November 2011, Sweetcrude, WARRI- AN Investigation Panel constituted by the recently dissolved Governing Council of the Federal University of Petroleum Resources, Effurun in Delta State has unearthed how some top officials perpetrated fraud and mismanaged the institution in the last few years.
Two of the affected officials were sent on leave while the issues were being investigated and have not been recalled last Friday.
Presently, the university is running behind schedule of academic calendar and none of its academic programmes has been accredited by the National Universities Commission, NUC.
The four-man panel, headed by Dr. (Mrs.) Lady Love Ineh, which submitted its report to the council, October 18, observed that “there is a general lack of sense of direction in the conduct of the affairs of the university” and pointed out that “this has affected the university negatively”.
The panel said a cabal hoodwinked the Vice- Chancellor, Prof Tunde Alabi on many issues and unilaterally ran the university without recourse to the Acting Vice- Chancellor, Prof Isaac Osazuwa, adding that a contract of N21 million for rehabilitation of the university access road was signed by an official without recourse to the acting vice chancellor, Prof Osazuwa.
According to the panel’s report, one of the affected officials diverted N1.524 million, belonging to a contractor into a private bank account despite a written instruction by the contractor to pay the money into the account of the company.
A bursary staff was found to operating business in dollars with a Nigerian –based company after the vice chancellor was misguided to approve money in dollars for local transactions. Besides hijacking contracts won by contractors, the clique paid approved money in dollars and naira into their personal accounts.
The panel stated, “On the bandwidth matter, the official (names withheld) was manipulating naira and dollar in payment to the vendor, with the intent of defrauding the university. Evidence of this amount advance is $12,400.00, but the amount paid is $12,300.00, leaving a difference for refund to be $100.00.  This amount is converted to N15, 300 (at the naira-dollar exchange rate of 153: 1) to be refunded and not N2, 900, which the official refunded and receipt was issued to her by the bursary…”
It noted that most of the transactions, particularly the ones involving the said official “are fraudulent and due to lack of proper understanding of the job schedule”.
According to the report, “The council should direct the panel investigating the activities of the official to find out whether it is lawful for a chief executive officer of a government parasatal in Nigeria to approve and sign money for payment in any other currency other than the naira”
The panel also found out that N1.85 million approved monthly for security is paid into the personal account of a staff and thereafter, N902, 000 is withdrawn and handed over in cash to a top official.
The report quoted the vice chancellor as saying he was shocked to hear that the official authorized security money to be paid into the personal account of another staff and later ask the staff to bring out N902, 000 from the money.
“The degree of fraud in the bursary department is very high. For example, the general security money (N902, 000), being handed over to an official (names withheld) by a staff monthly, which has not been accounted for, runs into millions of naira. This will impair the growth and development of the university.  An audit of the system duly observed. Again, there is a group effort to cover up this fraud. For example, there have been proven cases of fraud involving falsification and inflation of internet subscription against the principal accountant by SSANU, which the FUPRE management has refused to act upon”, the panel asserted.
The panel viewed at “suspicious” the payment of monthly security money without authorization from the vice chancellor into the personal account of a staff and sourcing of dollars in the black market by FUPRE officials.
 “It is to be noted that the vice chancellor, as chief executive officer of FUPRE, needs competent hands to advise him from time to time on the efficient administration of the university. Instead, the registrar and bursar abandoned their statutory roles and behaved like puppets and are thereby misleading the vice chancellor on many issues,” the panel disclosed.
“The governing council on its part made and continue to make sincere effort to get things moving in the university by making prompt approvals of money for the university to grow, but the slow pace of work of management coupled with administrative cum financial manipulations have constituted cankerworms, which have eaten deep into the fabrics of the university”.
“Rather than search for the best brains and provide the necessary incentive for them to work for the university, the management is busy promoting mediocrity under the guise of using those that the management could work with. Some intellectual who came to FUPRE on sabbatical leave or leave of absence and showed interest to extend their stay were simply rebuffed. Council may wish to address this issue and restore the image and dignity of FUPRE,” the report added.
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