The Provost of the Federal College of Education Obudu, Cross River State, James Ejue has been suspended by the Nigerian government over an alleged theft of N125 million from the Government Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) salary account of the college.
According to reports, the governing council of the college on December 15 recommended to the Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, to suspend Mr. Ejue for three months from January 1 to March 31.
GIFMIS is an IT-based system for budget management and accounting that is being used by the federal government to improve public expenditure management processes, and enhance greater accountability and transparency across its ministries and agencies.
It was designed to help government plan and use its financial resources more efficiently and effectively.
It was gathered that the governing council of the college appointed an acting Provost, Mecha Nduma, on January 24 after obtaining the minister’s approval.
When contacted via telephone, Mr. Nduma confirmed his appointment.
“I received my letter to to be the acting Provost on Wednesday January 24 and it was signed by the council chairman,” he said.
Meanwhile, a source in the college, who requested anonymity for fear of victimisation, said Mr. Ejue was suspended based on alleged misappropriation of funds in connivance with the bursar of the college, Ushie Sixtus, who has been on suspension since September 29.
“Ordinarily, the provost should be dismissed by the government because of the gravity of his crime according to the Civil Service Rule, Financial Regulation, and the Scheme of Service. But the report was doctored by some people,” the source said.
The source further also alleged that some persons in the Federal Ministry of Education tried to bury the suspension letter.
“I learnt that the minister minuted on the letter since December 2017 but the letter disappeared between the minister’s table and the Permanent Secretary’s table but was later found in the second week of January when some staff of the institution visited the ministry, ” the source said.
According to Section 5.5.7 of the conditions of service for Colleges of Education, under the act governing colleges of education in the country, only the minister of education can suspend a provost.
“If a council after considering the report of the investigating committee is satisfied that the officer, whose conduct is the subject matter of the investigation ought to be suspended from office, the council may by instrument in writing ( i) suspend the staff and (ii) in the case of the Provost, such recommendation should be forwarded to the Hon. Minister of Education through the Executive Secretary, National Commission for Colleges of Education.”
When contacted on Monday, the Chairman of the Governing Council of the college, Anthony Obi, said he had not seen the minister’s response to the council’s recommendation on Mr. Ejue. But he did not deny that there is a new acting Provost.
“The Council is yet to receive the minister’s memo on the recommendation,” he said on phone. “The council made a recommendation and the council will stand by its decision,” he said.
Meanwhile when contacted, Justin Egba, the spokesperson of the college, said he was at a meeting and could not speak on the issue.
Effort to get reactions from the Federal Ministry of Education was unsuccessful as the spokesperson, Chinyere Ihuoma, did not respond to calls and text messages.