Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, is making frantic efforts to ensure the reinstatement of former Director-General of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi, Chima Igwe.
The Governing Board of FIIRO suspended Igwe after public outcry on the veracity of the doctorate degree he is parading.
Igwe claimed to have obtained a doctorate degree from Universite d’Abomey-Calavi, Benin Republic, in 2001, but an investigation revealed that he was yet to complete and earn the degree.
The only evidence of the purported doctorate for 18 years was an attestation letter.
Igwe was subsequently suspended and demoted by the Governing Board.
However, following his demotion, the Minister of Science and Technology has been persuading the board to reinstate him.
The minister had claimed that Igwe was forcefully removed and the appointment of an Acting DG did not follow the due process.
A recent move by the minister was a meeting he held with the Board Chairman, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry and the Minister of State for Science and Technology.
At the meeting, the ministers pressed the Chairman of the Board to immediately remove the Acting DG, Dr Agnes Yemisi Asagbra, and reinstate embattled Igwe, a source privy to the meeting told SaharaReporters.
“The Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, employing all possible tactics to install his criminally indicted former Acting DG of FIIRO back to office after removal by the Institute’s board for perjury and forgery indictment by the ICPC.
BREAKING: FIIRO Removes Chima Igwe Over Fake Certificate, Appoints New Acting Director General
“The minister called the Board Chairman, Minister of State and Permanent Secretary to the meeting in Abuja last Friday and the Minister insisted that Igwe should be reinstated.
“We are glad that the Board Chairman stood his ground and said Igwe cannot be reinstated.
“The board of the Institute, based on findings of the internal investigation committee and report of the ICPC removed the Indicted Acting DG and demoted him to his pre-PhD status,” the source said.
Some staff of FIIRO are accusing the ICPC of abetting corrupt acts in the country by not moving to arrest and prosecute Igwe for false presentation of certificate and lying under oath.
“Dr Igwe falsely claimed he had PhD 18 years ago from relatively unknown university in Cotonou, his testimonial of completion was issued only in February 2020.
“He has obtained benefits and promotions based on a fake testimonial presented 18 years ago and the minister has done nothing better than encouraged and sponsored fictitious NGOs to issue statements in support of the DG.
“Rather than prosecute the indicted DG, the ICPC has equally kept criminal silence and allowed shenanigans of the minister to the detriment of the Institute, rule of law and accountability.
“The more time ICPC grants the minister by not prosecuting Igwe, the more pressure exerted on the board to return him,” a staff who spoke for others told SaharaReporters.
The staff urged the ICPC to immediately take legal step against Igwe and ensure he faces the full wrath of the law.
Rights organisations led by the Human and Environmental Development Agenda had in March 2020 written a petition to the Nigerian government to probe and prosecute Igwe.
In the petition addressed to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, HEDA urged government to ensure Igwe faces the law, adding that Igwe’s action amounts to obtaining under false pretence as stated in Section 418 of the Criminal Code.
“There cannot be two laws for poor and rich Nigerians. Ordinary people who forged documents are jailed. The rich should not be spared,” HEDA posited.
Saharareporters, New York