President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) to arraign a former acting Director-General of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi, Lagos, Chima Igwe for receiving salaries with a phantom doctorate for 18 years.
Buhari also directed the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, to allow the institute’s governing board to operate freely.
The President instructed that the board should commence the process of appointing a substantive Director Deneral.
Onu had appointed Igwe as FIIRO DG in 2019 despite the opposition of the governing board due to his controversial doctorate, which was being investigated by the ICPC.
According to PUNCH, when the publication visited Universite D’Abomey Calavi, Benin Republic, where he claimed to have bagged the PhD, it discovered that he did not complete the programme and had only been using an attestation letter issued by his supervisor in 2002 to gain promotion at the institute.
The ICPC, which initially cleared Igwe, said it was misled and reopened investigation into his case. The agency later concluded that he did not finish the academic programme.
He was subsequently deposed and demoted by the FIIRO board to the position he held before claiming the phantom certificate in 2002.
Igwe was said to have returned to the Benin varsity, defended his thesis and was issued a certificate dated 2020.
Onu subsequently pressured the FIIRO board to reinstate him as DG, which was rejected by the board Chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Gwarzo, who insisted that the officer deserved prosecution and not reward for the fraud.
However, Buhari, in a letter dated September 7, 2021, addressed to Onu, and signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Administration and Operations), Ibrahim Adamu, declined the “prayers of the Honourable Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation on the appointment of Chima Cartney Igwe as the substantive Director-General of FIIRO, Oshodi, Lagos State.”
“Directed the governing board of FIIRO to commence the process of the appointment of a substantive Director General in accordance with Section 188.8.131.52 (a) and (d) of the Conditions of Service for Federal Research and Development Agencies, Institutes and Colleges (Revised 2019).
“Directed the Honourable Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation to allow the Governing Board of FIIRO to operate freely within the ambit of the provisions of extant regulations guiding the relationship between the ministry and parastatals.
“Directed the ICPC to commence prosecution of Mr Chima Cartney Igwe for giving false information to his employer,” the document added.
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