FUPRE crisis gets messier

*’Education minister gave me $50,000 bribe’- VC

Emma Amaize

22 February 2012, Sweetcrude, WARRI – VICE-Chancellor of the Federal University of Petroleum Resources (FUPRE), Effurun, Delta State, Professor Babatunde Alabi, alleged, Tuesday, that the $50,000 bribe former Minister of State for Education, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, accused him of receiving, was willingly offered by him (Gbagi).

Prof. Alabi, at a briefing on the state of affairs in the institution, denied demanding bribe, saying that he returned the $50,000 to the wife of the former minister in the presence of his secretary.

However, Gbagi told Sweetcrude on phone, yesterday, “I could not have given him bribe as a Minister of State for Education on behalf of Sky Grade Construction Company because I had resigned as the chairman of the company as required by the constitution then, but I am aware that he collected the money.”

An official of Sky Grade Construction Company said the company wrote the Vice-Chancellor to refund the money, when it became evident that the contract was to be given to another company, after $50,000 had been collected from it, adding, “It was refunded four months after.”

Alabi insisted he returned the money. He said he returned to Delta State from Abuja and had to get Mrs. Gbagi to take the money back to her husband.

He denied having anything to do with Jazbell Nigeria Limited, the company that was alleged to have been favoured for the contract, saying that Gbagi was the one who personally called him on phone to meet him in his house in Abuja.

The Vice-Chancellor said when he got back to FUPRE, “I called my secretary and brought Mrs. Gbagi, I told her what her husband gave to me, and that I want to return it to him. Mrs. Gbagi and my secretary counted the money one by one, she cross- checked that the money was correct. I believe with the same bag the money was brought. I said, ‘Madam, please, give it back to your husband.”

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