N7.9Billion Fraud at NECO:NASU Seeks Jonathan’s Intervention



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The unfolding battle between the Non Academic Staff Union NASU and the management of  NECO has taken several twists and turns.One of the latest developments was an SOS letter written to President Goodluck Jonathan calling on the president to intervene to save the workers from harassment and intimidation by the management of NECO .

We serve you copies of the SOS and a petition earlier written to the president unedited, alleging huge fraud at NECO.Insiders at NECO have  alleged N7.9billion scam the institution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earlier the Union had written a petition to the president chronicling all the alleged financial abuses with documents to back up their allegations.We serve you excerpts of the petition:

 

The President and Commander

-In- Chief of the Federal Republic on Nigeria

Aso Prsidential Villa

Abuja

Your Excellency,

CORRUPTION AND ABUSE OF OFFICE BY THE REGISTRAR/CEO AND MANAGEMENT OF THE  NATIONAL EXAMINATIONS COUNCIL (NECO)

Permit us to draw the attention of your esteemed office to the various acts of corruption and abuse of office by the Registrar/CEO of the National Examinations Council (NECO) Professor Promise Nwachukwu Okpala and his Management. For the purpose of clarity, we have decided to break this write-up into two separate parts to enable us put forward the issues as best as we can.

CORRUPTION:

Over the years, the Staff of the National Examinations Council (NECO) have been in a running battle with the Management for the Payment/Refund of the National Housing Fund (NHF) contribution which they had done and which the Federal Government had directed to be paid back to the beneficiaries. This battle came to a fore after the inauguration of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) in the Council. The Union through a Resolution passed by its congress requested a refund of this contribution among other things to the beneficiaries, but there was no response from the Management. Sequel to this, a letter was written by the Union to the Federal Mortgage Bank (attached as Appendix A) requesting information about the contribution of its Members in NECO. A reply to this letter was written by the Federal Mortgage Bank to the Union (attached as Appendix B); and this letter revealed several inaccuracies, omissions and a complete absence of schedules which should otherwise show the details and number of individuals whose deductions were made from by the Council. A letter was written to the Registrar/CEO of (NECO) on 8th of May, 2012 (attached as Appendix C) by the Union with its findings but nothing has been done and no explanation given by the Management to remedy the situation. Evidence to these deductions i.e  payslips are (attached as Appendix D).

Upon the inauguration of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational and Associated Institutions (NASU) NECO Branch, the Union furnished the Management with the list of Staff who consented to be Members of the Union and by extension given approval for deductions to be made from their salary and paid to the Union as check off dues. The Union in turn wrote the Management supplying it with details on how remittances should be made. The Management however in its characteristic manner resorted to various antics of intimidation. It created YES/NO form and intimidated staff to fill NO to unionizm, however, one hundred and eighty-two Staff filled YES. Since the month of May 2012, deductions have been carried out dubiously on the salaries of these Staff (see Appendix E) with no record or remittance.

Furthermore, a member of Staff by name Musa Mohammed Hassan and also a member of the Union in 2008 had an accident while on official duty in Akwa-lbom State. This near fatal accident caused this individual and his family untold hardship while incurring huge medical expenses. Mr Musa within the said period wrote the Management in respect of an insurance coverage which should be paid to any member of Staff who experiences any kind of tragedy while on official assignment, but nothing was heard from Management. On the 23rd of Sept, 2009, a reminder was written to the Registrar/CEO Prof Promise N. Okpala attached (as Appendix F) for the payment of the insurance claim. A reply to this letter was written to the recipient, (see Appendix G) signed by Mr Garba D. Wakili, where he was directed to contact the Finance and Accounts department for his check. All efforts to get the claim check from the Finance and Accounts department of NECO or an explanation from the insurance company: Standard Alliance Insurance Company Limited proved fruitless (see Appendix H).

In the same light, our members have over the years encountered untold hardship whenever the need arose for them to get their Tax Clearance Certificate from the Niger State Board of Internal revenue. As a result of this, the Union wrote a letter to the board demanding explanation on why its members were denied Tax Clearance. The reply to this letter attached (as Appendix I) led us to believe that even though the taxes of our memberswere deducted monthly, proper remittances were not made to the board on their behalf by Management. Between the year 2008-2009, the National Examinations Council (NECO) under the stewardship of Prof. Promise N. Okpala has been plunged into a shocking Tax liability of One Hundred and Sixty Three Million Naira (N163,000,000.00). This is even more worrisome considering the fact that the Management in its desperation to offset the said liability, released a Circular dated 6th August, 2012 (attached as Appendix J) informing staff of a new Tax regime. We demand an explanation on what happened to Tax collections deducted from our salaries over the years.

Also, at the peak of disagreement between the Registrar/CEO of NECO and his Management, with the Non-Academic Staff Union And Associated Institutions (NASU), the Registrar/CEO approved the transfer of perceived Union members who were well over Two Hundred (200) staff in number from the Headquarters to various Zonal/State offices across the Country. The legality or otherwise of this transfer is being challenged at the National Industrial Court (NIC) Abuja. The Union’s attention was however drawn to the fact that there were various degrees of in-accuracies and deliberate shortages made by Management in the payment of Transfer Allowances. These sharp practices were brought to the attention of Management via a letter dated 7th of May 2012 (attached as Appendix K). None of our Members was paid their Resettlement Allowances which is put at 2% of an officers total emolument in direct violation of the Public Service Rule 130134, also the Kilometer Allowance paid was at a flat rate of Twenty Naira (N20), this is also in violation of Rule 130103 (see Appendix L). The Management has also refused to implement the ‘New National Minimum Wage’ signed into Law by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria with Implementation date put at 23rd March 2011, (see Appendix M).

Recently, in the heat of his struggle for a second term in office, some amount of money was alleged to have been transferred to one of the closest government officials to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to facilitate his re-appointment. This illegal transfer of funds took place precisely on 29th of March 2012 and beyond, using names of some companies that are registered with the Council. The names of the companies and amounts transferred are as follows:

BANK                                                                                     ACCT. NO

(A)     SKY BANK                                                                             1771037375

COMPANIES                                                                         AMOUNT

(1)     Basaco Printing Press Lagos                 –                  N60MILLION

(2)     Moreno Digital Print Onitsha                             –                  N30MILLION

(3)     Sam-Jesuit Enterprises                           –                  N12MILLION

                                                TOTAL                =                 N102MILLION

(B)     FIRST BANK                                                                2005219445

COMPANIES                                                                         AMOUNT

(1)     Gerewa Investment                                  –                  N11MILLION

(2)     Source Plus                                              –                  N11MILLION

(3)     Da’a Investment                                        –                  N11MILLION

(4)     Abibcom Nig. Limited                               –                  N12MILLION

                                                TOTAL                =                 N45MILLION

 

It is pertinent to note that Prof. Promise N. Okpala and his Management’s negative activities relating to corruption has already been widely publicized in various news media and other relevant sources over time, but they always seem to escape the arm of the law. For the benefit of hindsight we have chronicled a few:

The News Magazine of 26th Of March, 2012 and the Punch Newspaper of 24th of April 2012 among others, published an EFCC probe into N536,150,850 scam by the Registrar/CEO of NECO and a Mr. Tayo Odukoya who is the Head of the ICT unit of NECO, and a Director in the company l-Web Global Solutions Limited; the company through which the money was siphoned out of the Council (see Appendix N). It was reported that two members of staff of a first generation Bank were involved in this transaction. We gather that these two bankers have been dismissed by their employers, but the actual perpetrators are walking the streets as free men with the outcome of the EFCC investigation still unknown. On 10th of June 2011, the Guardian and Vanguard Newspapers reported ICPC’s accusation of NECO for violating financial rules and diverting N414 million into 18 different bank accounts (see Appendix N). Also on 13th of November 2009, the Nation Newspaper reported the arrest of the Registrar/CEO and two other members of his Management, Mr Adesina Adetona who is the Head of Procurement and Mr Isaac Ishola the Director Finance and Accounts by the EFCC under the Chairmanship of Farida Waziri in a N2.4 billion and N5.5 billion fraud. It was gathered in this report that the Registrar connived with his brother Mr Okpala Iheanyi to build Zonal and State offices in the 36 states and FCT. As it stands today, these buildings have not been built. Though we have an anti-corruption body in NECO (ACTU), the body is highly in-effective and doesn’t have the power as presently constituted to fight the various act of corruption bedeviling the National Examinations Council.

ABUSE OF OFFICE:

The National Examinations Council (NECO) is an organization which in the past could be described as very professional in the conduct of its mandate and the Staff enjoyed a harmonious working environment with a lot of prospect for career development. The environment was so harmonious that the slogan “one family” was common on the lips of its staff. This is not to allude to the fact that things were perfect; no, far from it. Like every family, there were problems here and there, but these problems were not insurmountable and they never at any time divided the Staff along ethnic or religious lines. Today, NECO can best be described as a house divided against itself as a result of various actions of the Registrar/CEO Professor Promise N. Okpala, the slogan these days is “it is our time”. This slogan is heard from the lips of those closest to the seat of power in NECO, which usually connotes that it is time for a particular ethnic group. To make matters worse, this slogan is carried out in practice by the actions of the Registrar/CEO through arbitrary postings and illegal employments he has carried out since his assumption of office. The Staff strength of the National Examinations Council (NECO) was a little above two thousand at the time Prof. Promise N. Okpala assumed duty as the Registrar/CEO, today the Staff strength has almost doubled that figure as a result of the astronomical levels of employment carried out without authorization, due process and mostly to his kith and kin contrary to the Public Service Rule 020205(f) (see Appendix O). It is on record that the Registrar/CEO got an approval to employ staff into the senior cadre in 2010. In this exercise over two hundred staff were employed, after which close to a thousand staff have been employed without due process and placed on any rank as the Registrar pleases without requisite qualifications. Some examples of this are as follows:

i.        Dr Ikechukwu E. Anyanwu is a Deputy Director (CONRAISS 14) in NECO and doubles as the Special Assistant to the Registrar/CEO Prof. Promise N. Okpala. His date of first appointment into the Federal Civil Service was 18/06/02 and he assumed duty at the National Examinations Council (NECO) on the 3rd of Sept 2007 on Secondment from the Universal Basic Education (UBE). On assumption of office, he was a CONRAISS 12 officer and by 01/01/2010, he was promoted to CONRAISS 14, a little after two years of his Secondment and a total of eight years in service, (attached as Appendix P). In fact, the promotion examination that catapulted him to the rank of Deputy Director in 2010 is still questionable. This is because, despite the rate of failure in the mathematics paper, he scored almost 100%, indicating that there must have been a foul play somewhere. This observation was widely made with a sense of corporate embarrassment by the Staff, ours being an examinations council! And there are clandestine plans to make him an Ag. Director on the exit of one of the two retiring Directors in the council.

ii.       Mr Benedict A. Uzor who is the PRO of the Council was employed on first appointment on 04/05/2010 into the Rank of an Assistant Director (CONRAISS 13) with no prior record of working experience and at the age of fifty one on a permanent employment with his date of birth documented as 05/04/1959 in direct contravention of the Public Service Rule 020205(a) (refer to Appendix O). He is also of the same descent with the Special Assistant to the Registrar Dr Ikechukwu E. Anyanwu.

iii.      Mr Mathias O. Okpala who is a younger brother to the Registrar/CEO was also employed on first appointment on 04/06/2010 into the Rank of an Assistant Director (CONRAISS 13) with no prior record of working experience.

iv.      Mrs Esther U. Njoku a Master’s degree holder in Administration and Planning was   also   employed   into   the   National   Examinations Council   (NECO)   on 04/05/2010 on first appointment and placed on CONRAISS 12, also with no prior record of working experience.

v.       Sir, can you imagine that the Technical Assistant to the Registrar, Mr Emeka Ajiero, is an officer on CONRAISS 09 and doubles as a Head of Division? This in a Council where several Assistant Directors and some Deputy Directors are left without schedules?

vi.      Sir, can you also imagine that Miss Patricia Itseuwa, another officer on CONRAISS  11, was made a Head of Division.

Vii     Dr Onyemaechi Eke and Dr Nwanwu are newly recruited officers and they have been made Head of Divisions in a place where we have more senior and more experienced hands.

viii.    Mr Okafor Benjamin Echezona was purportedly given an appointment by the Registrar/CEO and signed by the Director Corporate Support Services (CSS) Mr John O. Asuwe on the 16th of December 2010. From the documents (see Appendix Q) you would find that Mr Okafor did not conclude his youth service until the 5th of July 2011, and could only resume duty by virtue of his letter of posting on 18th of October 2011. This act of back dating and continuous employment without authorization, due process and requisite qualification runs contrary to the Public Service Rule 020205(f) (refer to Appendix Q).

PRAYERS:

In line with the Federal Government’s policy of zero tolerance to corruption and abuse of office and in compliance with the statutory function of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Commission, we are requesting a thorough investigation into the activities of the Management of the National Examinations Council (NECO) and prosecution all liable officers. We would also want the Anti-Corruption body in the Council (ACTU) reconstituted and strengthened to fight acts of corruption in future.

Yours faithfully,

NECO NASU Branch

 

A petition has also been written to the Head of Service of the Federation alleging irregularities:

The Head of the Civil Service of the Federation,
The Presidency
Federal Secretariat, Phase II, Abuja.

ATTENTION:

Director Rules and Regulations

Sir,

LOSS OF CONFIDENCE IN THE MANAGEMENT OF NECO TO CONDUCT PROMOTIONAL EXAMINATION FOR STAFF OF THE COUNCIL

It is with the highest sense of responsibility that we write to intimate your esteemed office of our loss of confidence in the Registrar/CEO and his entire Management team to carry out a free and fair promotion examination where all aspiring Staff would be given a level playing ground.

It is no longer news that there has been a myriad of crises in the National Examinations Council (NECO) particularly between the engagement and Members of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Educational And Associated Institutions (NASU). To better understand and appreciate the situation, there is a need to go back a little into history to trace the reason behind the said crises.

On the 17th of November, 2011, a Circular was released to all Staff of the Council by the •Management informing members of Staff that those who were interested in Unionizing should do so via a written intention and to submit same to Management. This Circular was transmitted through the Deputy Director Legal, Barrister Babatunde S. Aina for the Registrar/CEO (see Appendix A). Knowing that this might be a trap to victimize intending Members of the Union, the Staff reached out to the Union and were furnished with an Industrial Arbitration Panel ruling which gave them unfeterred right to join the Union, (attached as Appendix B).

In January 2012, twenty four of these interested members of Staff were transferred from the Headquarters to various Zonal/State offices across the country. This was done apparently to instil fear into the staff of the Council which could lead to a calculated abortion in an already slated inauguration of the NECO branch of the Union. When this did not work however, the Registrar/CEO went ahead to transfer over two hundred Staff of the Council after the inauguration which took place on the 21st of March, 2012, (see Appendix C). Even, the Deputy Director of Finance, Mr James Ojebode, designed a YES/NO form through which staffers were coerced out of the Union membership by departmental directors some of whom even went to office on a Sunday for this illegal action. This punitive transfer and other acts of intimidation and threats to Members of the Union, led to a letter written to the Honourable Minister of Education Professor Ruqayyat A. Rufai by the National body of the Union (attached as Appendix D). We were of a firm believe that this action would bring calm to the already tensed atmosphere, but unfortunately the Management went ahead issuing threats, intimidating members of the Union and vowing not to Promote or post any member of the Union on any official assignment till the tenure of the Registrar/CEO is over. The Union Executive in NECO again wrote the Honourable Minister of Education and other stakeholders intimating them of these threats, (see Appendix E). Till date, the threats, intimidation and victimization continue as all members of the Union have been left out of all out-duty postings in the Council. Drivers on as low as level 04 are not left out of this punitive transfer and other acts of victimization!

At present, all matters relating to the victimization and illegal transfer carried out by the Registrar/CEO and his Management team is before the National Industrial Court (NIC) Abuja. Though we are hopeful that we would get appropriate redress on the unlawful acts visited on our members, we would not want to fold our arms and allow the career progression of our Members to be stagnated for no just cause. It is pertinent to note also that one of the reasons the Union is in disagreement with the Registrar/CEO and his Management has to do with illegal employment and placement of his kith and kin in positions and ranks they are not qualified for or do not merit. Sir, few examples of such acts of utter disregard for Public Service Rules would suffice here:

i.        Dr Ikechukwu E. Anyanwu is a Deputy Director (CONRAISS 14) in NECO and doubles as the Special Assistant to the Registrar/CEO Prof. Promise N. Okpala. His date of first appointment into the Federal Civil Service was 18/06/02 and he assumed duty at the National Examinations Council (NECO) on the 3rd of Sept 2007 on Secondment from the Universal Basic Education (UBE). On assumption of office, he was a CONRAISS 12 officer and by 01/01/2010, he was promoted to CONRAISS 14, a little after two years of his Secondment and a total of eight years in service, (attached as Appendix F). In fact, the promotion examination that catapulted him to the rank of Deputy Director in 2010 is still questionable. This is because, despite the rate of failure in the mathematics paper, he scored almost 100%, indicating that there must have been a foul play somewhere. This observation was widely made with a sense of corporate embarrassment by the Staff, ours being an examinations council! And there are clandestine plans to make him an Ag. Director on the exit of one of the two retiring Directors in the council.

ii.       Mr Benedict A. Uzor who is the PRO of the Council was employed on first appointment on 04/05/2010 into the Rank of an Assistant Director (CONRAISS 13) with no prior record of working experience and at the age of fifty one on a permanent employment with his date of birth documented as 05/04/1959 in direct contravention of the Public Service Rule 020205(a) (see Appendix G). He is also of the same descent with the Special Assistant to the Registrar Dr Ikechukwu E. Anyanwu.

iii.      Mr Mathias O. Okpala who is a younger brother to the Registrar/CEO was also employed on first appointment on 04/06/2010 into the Rank of an Assistant Director (CONRAISS 13) with no prior record of working experience.

iv.      Mrs Esther U. Njoku a Master’s degree holder in Administration and Planning was also employed into the National Examinations Council (NECO) on 04/05/2010 on first appointment and  placed  on  CONRAISS  12,  also with  no  prior record of working experience.

v.       Sir, can you imagine that the Technical Assistant to the Registrar, Mr Emeka Ajiero, is an officer on CONRAISS 09 and doubles as a Head of Division? This in a Council where several Assistant Directors and some Deputy Directors are left without schedules?

vi.      Sir, can you also imagine that Miss Patricia Itseuwa, another officer on CONRAISS 09/11,   was   made   a   Head   of   Division   even   before   her   confirmation   of appointment?

vii.     Dr Onyemaechi Eke and Dr Nwanwu are newly recruited officers and they have been made Head of Divisions in a place where we have more senior and more experienced hands.

viii.    Mr Okafor Benjamin Echezona was purportedly given an appointment by the Registrar/CEO and signed by the Director Corporate Support Services (CSS) Mr John O. Asuwe on the 16 of December 2010. From the documents (tagged Appendix H) you would find that Mr Okafor did not conclude his youth service until the 5th of July 2011, and could only resume duty by virtue of his letter of posting on 18th of October 2011. This act of back dating and continuous employment without authorization, due process and requisite qualification runs contrary to the Public Service Rule 020205(f).

Against this backdrop, we do not have confidence in this Registrar/CEO and Management to conduct promotional examination for the Staff of the Council as there are willing to sacrifice merit and morality at any cost as long as it would serve their agenda of nepotism of all sorts.

PRAYERS:

We hereby appeal for a prompt and thorough investigation into the matters raised in this write-up and a comprehensive audit of all employments conducted from 2009 to date. Equally in order to ensure transparency and fair play, we appeal that an independent body is jointly set up by the office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation and the Federal Ministry of Education to conduct the forthcoming promotion examination in the council.

Your prompt response and action would no doubt help to avert the threat to stagnate the lawful career progression of our members as well as right many of the numerous wrongs in the Council.

Yours faithfully,

NECO NASU BRANCH

Cc:

People’s Rights Advocacy and Social Justice

 

 


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