Buhari sacks NECO Registrar, Uwakwe, over alleged N25 billion fraud

President Muhammadu Bubari

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has sacked the Registrar of the National Examinations Council (NECO) over alleged N25 billion fraud.

This is coming two years after facing an investigative panel “constituted to probe allegations of unsatisfactory conduct,” of NECO leaders.

Buhari, approving the termination of the appointment of Professor Charles Uwakwe as the Registrar/Chief Executive of NECO, on Wednesday, directed him to hand over all government properties in his custody to the Acting Registrar of the Council.

The Head, Information and Public Relations Division, NECO, Azeez Sani, in a statement said, four Management Staff of the Council were also dismissed from Service for various offences.

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It was disclosed in a letter dated May 11, 2020 and signed by the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Education, Sonny Echono, on behalf of the Minister of Education, that Uwakwe was accused of “violating the Public Procurement Act (2007) and pursuant to PSR 030402 and part 1 schedule 4 (i) of NECO Establishment Act.”

“After due consideration of the investigative panel on the allegation of unsatisfactory conduct levelled against you and some Management Staff of the Council, Mr. President in exercise of his powers, has approved your removal as Registrar/Chief Executive Officer of National Examinations Council with effect from the date of your suspension from duty,” the sack letter read in part.

A separate letter with reference No: FME/S/1419/C.3/T/98, dated May 11, 2020 and signed by Echono, disclosed that Buhari also approved the dismissal from service of four Management Staff for various offences.

The affected officers are: Bamidele Olure, Acting Director, Finance and Accounts; Dr. Shina Adetona, Head of Procurement Division; Tayo Odukoya, Deputy Director; and Babatunde Aina, Head of Legal/Board matters.

Professor Uwakwe and two of the dismissed Management Staff, had been placed on suspension since May 10, 2018, while an investigative panel was constituted to probe the allegations of unsatisfactory conduct levelled against them, with N25 billion said to have been mismanaged by the management.

In the letter, it was stated that: “After due consideration of the Financial Report of the Review Committee, Mr. President has approved the recommendations as follows:

“Mr. Bamidele Amos Olure, Acting Director (Finance and Accounts), dismissal from the service with effect from the date of his suspension from office having been found guilty of financial impropriety and not qualified to Head the Finance and Accounts Department.”

The letter also stated that Dr. Adetona was dismissed from service with effect from the date he was suspended from office for acts tantamount to fraudulent practices, sabotage and suppression of official records pursuant to PSR 030402 (b & t).

Besides his dismissal, he is also to be prosecuted in line with section 58 (5) (a & b) of the Public Procurement Act (PPA) (2007) for flagrant violation of PPA 2007 as Head of Procurement and misleading Management on Procurement.

For Odukoya, the letter said, he was dismissed from service for acts of serious misconduct, which violates PSR 030301 and PSR 030402 (q) (t) (w), while he is to be prosecuted in line with section 58 (5) (a) and (b) of the Public Procurement Act (2007) for flagrant violation of the Act.

The letter also directed the Management of NECO to commence the process of recovering ill-gotten benefits/gains from Odukoya, who acted as Director of a company, M/S I-web Solutions, while in the service of Government.

A lawyer, Aina, was dismissed from service for falsification of records and dishonesty in the sale of NECO Guest House, which violates section 2609 (a) of the Financial Regulations (FR) and PPA (2007) part X section 55 (2) – (4) and section 56 which are tantamount to serious misconduct pursuant to PSR 030301 (g), PSR 030402 (a) and PSR 030402 (m).