Nigerian Anti-Corruption Agencies, ICPC, EFCC Clampdown On AAU Former VC, Prof. Onimawo And His Aides For Alleged Massive Embezzlement, Diversion Of Billions Of Naira Of University Funds

 BARELY two months after his exit as the Vice-Chancellor of the Edo State-owned Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Professor Ignatius A. Onimawo is currently facing intense interrogation for possible prosecution by the anti-corruption agencies of government, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), for alleged corrupt practices of massive embezzlement, diversion and misappropriation of the University funds running into billions of naira.

Investigation revealed that Professor Ignatius A. Onimawo was “a guest” of the ICPC on July 5, 2021, at Abuja to defend series of financial misdemeanors while in office as the Vice-Chancellor of AAU Ekpoma.
It was gathered that Prof. Ignatius A. Onimawo is currently being quizzed alongside with his personal assistants while in office, Messrs Christopher Akhigbe Omo-Iriogbe and Eugene Osemudiamen Eraikhuemen whose private bank accounts were allegedly used by Prof. Ignatius A. Onimawo to divert the University funds in large scale.
The available information indicated yesterday that Prof Ignatius A. Onimawo and his co-travelers (Christopher Akhigbe Omo-Iriogbe and Eugene Osemudiamen Eraikhuemen) in the said alleged financial crime would be quizzed by the EFCC on 15th of July, 2021.
It was further gathered that the appropriate office in EFCC had already requested from the Registrar of the University via a memo for the release of both Christopher Akhigbe Omo-Iriogbe and Eugene Osemudiamen Eraikhuemen (who are still staff members of the University) on July 15, 2021 for interview, pursuant to Section 38(1) & (2) of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004 and Section 21 of Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act, 2011 as amended.
The University’s immediate past Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Governing Council, Chief (Sir) Lawson Omokhodion had revealed that ₦350 million of the University’s funds was transferred from its various accounts/revenue units between October 2016 and December 2018 into the private bank accounts of Christopher Omo-Iriogbe and Eugene Eraikhuemen.
He added that the practice may have continued till May 11, 2021 and the large sums transferred into the private accounts of the VC’s personal assistants “were subsequently paid to the VC, his wife and children.”
Omokhodion said: “Council found the financial management practices of the former VC and Bursar very strange and opaque. The Bursar was questioned for paying AAU monies into the private accounts of VC’s personal assistants and he claimed the VC approved the practice. In this way the funds of the University were recklessly abused.
The statements of Zenith Bank Savings accounts of Christopher Omo-Iriogbe and Eugene Eraikhuemen covering the period June 1, 2016 to May 10, 2021 should be tendered to see the actual amounts of AAU funds transferred into their accounts. The amount could be in excess of ₦1 billion.”
Also before the scrutiny of the anti-corruption agencies is the puzzle surrounding the ‘disappearance’ of the credit balance of ₦75 million in the liquidated Allstates Trust Bank in favour of AAU. NDIC records had it that the money had been collected by certain individuals in the University.
Given the available facts, the University’s Entrepreneurship Development Centre and AAU Consult Limited would attract the searchlight of the anti-corruption agencies. There is the allegation of mismanagement, diversion and failure to account for millions of naira in the University’s Entrepreneurship Development Centre during the Prof. Ignatius A. Onimawo’s period as Vice-Chancellor.
Omokhiodon claimed that the University’s Entrepreneurship Development Centre operated outside the University requirements and yet was shielded by the former Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Ignatius A. Onimawo, adding that “the Centre was being critically reviewed by Council prior to Covid-19 crisis. Final audit of this unit is outstanding.”
Similarly is the alleged foul play in AAU Consult Limited, given the information that the Consult “had outstanding receivables of ₦120 million and owed the University ₦70 million in advances but no University staff knew from where the receivables could be collected.”
Trojan news earlier cataloged the alleged financial atrocities of the ex-while Vice-Chancellor which includes over-invoicing, inflation of contracts sum, misappropriation of funds met for infrastructure, and nonexistent of contracts paid for.
We revealed authoritatively some specific cases of corrupt acts and fraud allegedly perpetrated by the former Vice-Chancellor. The alleged corruption activities rage from his approval of about N30 million Naira to the University’s Director of Entrepreneurship, Prof. Engr. Osadolar Odia, as palliative, even as gathered that the same Prof. Odia has been unable to retire same and also refused to account for a huge sum of money from the sales of entrepreneurship books and materials produced by the division.
It is also contentious and controversial former Vice-Chancellor’s approval of about N90 million Naira TETfund money to the son of one Prof. Patrick Oviasuyi of the Department of Public Administration and a former director of the University’s Academic Planning Division for a study programme abroad. The said son of Prof. Oviasuyi who was recently employed by the Vice-Chancellor is still an unconfirmed staff.
In a similar manner, a total sum of N100 million was transferred from the various university accounts into the personal account of one Eugene Eraikhuemen, VC’s PA. Of this amount, a total sum of N26 million was allegedly transferred into the personal account of Eraikhuemen from various university internally generated revenue accounts and from other staff accounts. Out of this amount a total sum of N25 million was transferred by Eugene Eraikhuemen to the personal account of the VC and of Jane Onimawo, the wife of the VC.
In the 2-year period of (2017 and 2018), the former VC spent the total sum of N55 million as security vote instead of N24 million because the monthly security vote approval is N1 million per month. The VC also spent N62 million in 2017 and 2018 for local and foreign travels; an amount that cannot be defended. In November 2017, the VC bought a Toyota Camry Car of N19 million for himself without Council approval, and yet the amount was above his approval limit of N5 million.
while in office, Prof. Onimawo was alleged to have also authorized funds to be paid into the account of Dr H.O.T. lyawe an Ag. Director of AAU Consults to transfer the sum of N5 million into the Zenith bank account number 175969966, belonging to Chris Omo-lribhogbe to carry out unexplained activities.
Mrs. Onimawo, the wife of the former VC, also spent University funds of N7.1 million for the two years covering 2017 and 2018 for her own travels. It is not clear what all the monies illegally transferred from the various Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma bank accounts into the accounts of Chris Omon lribhogbe and Eugene Eraikhuemen are meant for and those benefitting from the fraud.
The former VC was also been accused of engaging in ceaseless irregular employment in the university in defiance of the embargo on employment by the state government and the Governing Council of the University. gathered that even in the face and during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown the Vice-Chancellor still engaged in an employment spree by offering employment to certain persons in this period of financial lockdown without recourse to the Council.
Our findings revealed that the ex-while Vice-Chancellor ignored the decision and repeated directives to suspend Mr. Chris Omon-Iriogbe and Mr. Eugene as was decided and directed by the Council since the duo were allegedly involved in the abnormal financial transactions on behalf of the University.
In flagrant disregard to due process, the former VC authorized the disbursement of over N5 billion from TETFUND and NEEDs Assessment fund, an action that is still being challenged by the University’s Chapter of ASUU.
We also discovered that the former Vice-Chancellor has overpopulation the college of Medicine through admissions of (MBBS and Nursing) above the NUC and Council’s quota and his refusal to report same to council for over one your running. This has led to the withdrawal of the licence of the department by the medical and Dental council.
before his exit from office, the former Vice-Chancellor bought his official cars without Council approvals at the following rates: 2018 modern Camry at N22 million; two Prado Jeeps at N80 million. One of the Prados was purchased during this COVID-19 pandemic period. The VC’s wife’s Camry was bought at N19 million, alongside a Hilux backup for N15 million. The Council queried the VC’s temerity to whimsically purchase vehicles for himself and his wife without the University Council’s approval.
It was alleged that the week prior to the inauguration of the visitation panel the former VC withdrew through Chris Omo-Iribhogbe about N3 million and another N5 million as contingency funds. The VC was also alleged to have approved a contract for a company called Matefudia International Limited PV 109333 to do a job of N62 million and had the whole contract sum paid to Chris Omo-Iribhogbe account.
It was also reported that the former Vice-Chancellor through Engr. O. Odia and Chris Omo-Iribhogbe and Eugene Eraikhuemen withdrew the sum of N64 million as COVID-19 pandemic palliatives. In the 2017/2019 academic section, Prof Onimawo was allegedly said to have connived with his crony, Prof Osarodion Odia, a director of the entrepreneurship centre to withdraw the sum of N11 million for use by the Vice-Chancellor.
Aside from these, the former Vice-Chancellor was said to have approved illegal collection of N10,000 and N15,000 from materials and production students by the Head of Department, Engr. Lawrence who is a cousin to the Vice-Chancellor, is against N1000 approval for the other students.
Our sources revealed that the former Vice-Chancellor allegedly acquired the rented property housing the university liaison office at Boundary Road in Benin City with a whopping sum of N85 million. He was said to have reverted the property back to the university management when the news blew open that the Vice-Chancellor has been acquiring properties above his earnings.
“The former Vice-Chancellor cannot unilaterally purchase N85 million property on behalf of the University without the approval of the Council”, in the words of a member of the Visitation Panel. “All of these were done in flagrant disobedience to the normal University procedure”, he said.
The former Vice-Chancellor is also to convince the anti-corruption agencies why he should not be prosecuted over the alleged discovered anomalies in the number of staff of the University. More than 200 staff names not on the university payroll were said to have received emoluments as approved by Prof. Ignatius A. Onimawo as Vice-Chancellor and every attempt to conclude investigations into the said discovery was either thwarted or frustrated by Prof. Ignatius A. Onimawo.
Prof. Ignatius A. Onimawo left as Vice-Chancellor on May 11, this year, while the University was in administrative and financial comatose evident in massive strike actions by all staff unions (ASUU, SANNU, NAAT and NASU) in the University as a result of more than 1 year of non-payment of staff salaries. Prof. Onimawo’s era in the university is said to have witnessed serious decline in academic standards and a reign of repression, victimization, sycophancy, corruption and administrative highhandedness.

Post a Comment