ICPC arraigns Federal College of Education Ex-Provost, others over corruption

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The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has arraigned the former Provost, Federal College of Education (Technical), Asaba, Ezoem Nwanze Ignatius, and a former Director of Works in the institution, Chukwuka Jonas Ifechukwude, as well as the registrar, Ugbeche Linus Ifeanyi, before the Federal High Court, Asaba, over charges bordering on corruption and fraudulent acts.

The arraignment followed a petition sent to the ICPC by a whistle-blower and the Head of Physical Planning Division of Works and Services Department of the college, Joseph Ameh, over a series of corrupt practices in the institution allegedly involving the incumbent Provost, Josephine Anene-Okakwa, acting Director of Works, Ibhafidon Ehimen, with the support of members of the governing council of the institution.

Ameh, who was sacked last year by the institution following some petitions to the commission, had alleged that there were threats on his life, among others.

“It became obvious that the threat to terminate my appointment for daring to speak against unprofessional, unsafe practices and deep-rooted corruption and sharp practices by the management and the governing council ally, Mr. Femi Ibrahim could not coerce me to yield to the decision to grant further illegal variations and payments outside contract conditions proposed in the meeting where the contractor has been overpaid by over N70 million that has been shared by the management and governing council ally,” he said.

Ameh had also revealed among other things the variation and overpayment by the former director of works, Chukwuka Jonas Ifechukwude, Anene-Okakwa and governing council chairman, Ibrahim Olufemi, to Davoris Nigeria Limited for the construction of an administrative block at the college, amongst other projects.

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There were also allegations of a plot to override outstanding and defective works and make payments outside architects verified works and costing instructions to the QS Yahaya Gwani on a block of 12 classrooms constructed by Shull Point Ventures.

The petitioner had further noted that “Over the years, fraud and financial improprieties have been going on as a routine and I have suffered all manners of official, psychological and physical intimidation for daring to speak out to the extent that in anticipation of my reactions, I have been labelled a petition writer, queried, threatened to be sacked and warned not to speak out against all these improprieties. This has also come to pass with my termination letter just received,” he said.

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) on 11 February, 2021 arraigned the former Provost, FCET, Asaba, Ezoem Nwanze Ignatius, former Director of works, Chukwuka Jonas Ifechukwude, and the institution’s registrar, Ugbeche Linus Ifeanyi on 6 counts bordering on corruption and fraudulent acts at the Federal High Court, Asaba.

The suit marked FHC/ASB49c/2020 is between the Federal Republic of Nigeria, (complainant) and Ezoem Nwanze Ignatius, Chukwuka Jonas Ifechukwude, and Ugbeche Linus Ifeanyi (defendants).

A charge sheet obtained by our correspondent reads in part: “That you, Dr. Ezoem Nwanze Ignatius (m) and Chukwuka Jonas Ifechukwude (m) on or about March 2013 at Asaba, Delta State, conspired to use your office as the provost and director of works respectively at Federal College of Education (Technical), Asaba to confer an unfair advantage on Moropol Construction Limited by recommending and approving the payment of N33,823,333.90 (Thirty-three million eight hundred and twenty-three thousand, three hundred and thirty-three naira, ninety kobo) representing 50% of the contract sum awarded in favour of Moropol Construction Limited by FCET, Asaba in February 2013 when no such job had been done by the contractor and you thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 26(1)(c) and punishable under section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.

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“That you Dr. Ezoem Nwanze Ignatius (m) and Chukwuka Jonas Ifechukwude (m) on or about the month of March, 2013 at Asaba, Delta state conspired to use your office as the provost and director of works respectively at FCET, Asaba to confer an unfair advantage on Moropol Construction Limited by asserting in your minutes dated 26th March, 2013 that the contractor deserved 59% of the contract sum when no such job had been done by the contractor and you thereby committed an offence contrary to section 19 of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.

“That you Dr. Ezoem Nwanze Ignatius (m) and Chukwuka Jonas Ifechukwude (m) on or about the month of March 2013 at Asaba, Delta state conspired to use your office as the provost and director of works respectively at FCET, Asaba conspired to knowingly make false statements to the bursar of the college in the course of performance of his official duties by asserting in your minutes dated 26/3/2013 that the work on the construction of 350 capacity lecture theatre at the permanent site of the college has progressed well and the contractor deserved 50% of the contract sum when no such work had been done and therefore committed an offence contrary to section 26(1)(c), 26(I)(a) and punishable under section 26(I)(b) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.

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“That you Dr. Ezoem Nwanze Ignatius (m) and Chukwuka Jonas Ifechukwude (m) on or about the month of March, 2013 at Asaba, Delta state conspired to use your office as the provost and director of works respectively at FCET, Asaba conspired to knowingly make false statements to the bursar of the college by asserting in your minutes dated 26/3/2013 that the work on the construction of 350 capacity lecture theatre at the permanent site of the college has progressed well and the contractor deserved 50% of the contract sum when no such work had been done and therefore committed an offence contrary to section 25(I)(a) and punishable under section 25(I)(b) of the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act 2000.”

The case was however adjourned till April 20, 2021, for the continuation of hearing.

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