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TETFUND Contract Racketeering: EFCC Queries Management Of Agagu Varsity, Detained Procurement Officer

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has commenced investigation of the Vice Chancellor of the Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology (OAUSTECH), Okitipupa in the southern part of Ondo State of Nigeria and his Management team over what it termed “contract racketeering and violation of Procurement Act”.

The Vice Chancellor, Professor Sunday Roberts Ogunduyile, his Deputy, Professor Francis Igbasan and the University Procurement Officer was said to have been petitioned by a bystander suspected to be one of the contractors who had bided for contract in the University but was edged out for reason of having anointed contractors to award the multi-million-naira contracts to. The bystander has decided to complain about the purported shady conduct of Management of the University on what seems to be their practice of breaching the Public Procurement Laws, especially about their wilful refusal to advertise some bids as a way to put potential qualified contractors in disadvantage, thus sacrificing the requirements of competitiveness on award of contracts as required by the Public Procurement Laws.

Sources from amongst the contractors who all preferred to relate under condition of anonymity confirmed that the University Procurement Officer, Mr. Bankole Adeyefa was the brain behind the illegalities in the University which was the reason why he was detained at the holding cell of the EFCC Benin Zonal Office. Other sources also confirmed that the Procurement Officer had to go to the extent of falsifying contract agreements in a bid to cover up some suspected infractions during investigations. He is being further investigated for offence likely to be forgery as the authenticity of the contract agreement he submitted to Benin office is still being verified.

According to a number of EFCC correspondence to the Vice Chancellor, whose tenure is said to be ending in February 22, 2022, there seems to be much for the Management of the University to explain.

By a letter signed by one Ede Nkechi Rita on behalf of the EFCC Benin Zonal Commander, titled “Investigative Activities 1. Rosjimtech Nigeria Limited, 2. Finlab Nigeria Limited, 3. Lerick Nigeria Limited, 4. Rear Breeds Global Services Limited” and addressed to the “Vice Chancellor, Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology, Km 6, Okitipupa-Igbokoda Road, Okitipupa, Ondo State”, the anti-graft agency requested the Vice Chancellor to furnish its Commission with “i. copy of contract agreement executed between the University and the above companies, ii. List of members of Procurement Planning Committee, minutes of meeting, recommendation made in respect of the contracts awarded to the above-named companies, iii. Any other information that may assist this Commission in its investigation”.

It was gathered that the Procurement Officer, knowing fully well that the requested documents were not available before those contracts were awarded, attempted to defend his principal, the Vice Chancellor by drafting contract agreement by himself and signed it. The Vice Chancellor and his “boy” later conspired to sign the contract agreement behind the University Registrar whose office could not have been left out in award of contract. Further information gathered confirmed that the act of the Procurement Officer led to another letter from the EFCC, addressed to the Vice Chancellor, stating in part that “in view of the above, you are kindly requested to release your Director of Procurement to report for an interview with the undersigned through the Head, Economic Governance Crimes Section-2 as scheduled below:”

The EFCC was reported to discover that Mr. Bankole Adeyefa conspired with the Vice Chancellor to side-lined the Registrar and other key units of the University to falsify official documents in the University. He has since been listed for scheduled report at the Benin office of the EFCC.

When the Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of the Governing Council of the University was contacted to confirm the ongoing investigation of the Vice Chancellor and some of his staff, the Chairman who was identified as Professor Akinbo Adesomoju said he was not aware of any investigation. He said “It is true that I am Professor Adesomoju and I am the Chairman of Council of Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology, Okitipupa. I am not aware of any ongong investigation of the Vice Chancellor and I do not rely on rumour peddling.”

However, the Vice Chancellor confirmed that the University is being questioned by the EFCC and that they have supplied the agency the documents being sought from them.

Meanwhile, a female senior staff in the University who preferred to remain anonymous said it is a common knowledge within the University community that the Management of the University has not been following due process according to the full letters of the procurement law. She said that the Chairman of the Governing Council has repeatedly sounded warnings to the Vice Chancellor at the floor of council meetings on the penchant of the Vice Chancellor for not following due process, the development which often result to altercations between the two during Council meetings.

When asked about the status of the investigation and whether the Vice Chancellor himself, the concerned units and Committee members involved in the award of the contracts have been invited by the EFCC, the staff hinted that she gathered that the Vice Chancellor is making frantic efforts to carpet the investigation through the assistance of his allies in Abuja.
The Benin Zonal Office of the anti-graft agency declined granting interview on the investigation.

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