However, in a statement titled “Re: hasty suspension of NECO Registrar and 2 other directors” made available to newsmen in Abuja on Thursday which was signed by Comrade Shuaib Umar, Executive Director and Hon. Carl Umegboro, Director (Strategy & Publicity), the group stated that the allegations relied upon for the hasty suspension of the three officials were completely unfounded and inconsistent with shocking facts obtained from anonymous resourceful members of staff of the agency during its concerted independent investigations in Minna over the matter.
A Non-government organization (NGO), Equity and Social Justice Initiative (ESJI) has condemned the rushed suspension of the Registrar of National Examination Council (NECO), Professor Charles Uwakwe and two other directors over unfounded allegations.
The three were suspended over purported irregular recruitment in 2015/2017, faulty procurement processes for 2016/2017 and financial mismanagement amounting to a sum of N25b (twenty five billion naira).
The statement reads in part, “the 2015 recruitment exercise accused the NECO boss of was carried out by the immediate past Registrar/Chief Executive, and there is no record of any form of neither approvals nor waivers or certificate of compliance for the 2015 exercise where about 72 members of staff were recruited”.
It further says, “the investigation also showed that unlike the 2015 exercise, the 2017 exercise he carried out had waivers from Head of Service and Federal Character Commission, Budget provision by Budget Office of the Federation and a Certificate of Compliance duly issued by the Federal Character Commission”.
“Again, it was shown that the alleged faulty procurement processes for 2017 was a template used in awarding contracts in 2016 by the previous Registrar who already signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with all the eight security printers for a 3-year contract effective from 2016. Hence, on assumption of office, the new Registrar maintained the status quo albeit with plans for reviews at the expiration of the three years if necessary”.
“On the alleged financial mismanagement, our investigation also revealed that the suspended registrar since he assumed office has been prudent and compliant to due process in all financial transactions with incomes and expenditures always made available to the relevant authorities for inspection and auditing”, the group said.
The group in its deductions suspects foul play; that the persecution was likely another case of corruption fighting back and therefore demands for thorough and transparent investigation by the Federal Government. It added that it was sad that a professional institution that since its establishment has maintained high standard and complemented the West African Examination Council (WAEC) credibly was subjected to such trivialities for mere selfish interests of few people.
“ESJI condemns in totality the disgraceful developments and suspicious political conspiracies at NECO which is capable of ridiculing the institution if unchecked, and consequently calls on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene and ensure that justice prevails. Of course, we have unalloyed confidence in the Hon Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu who has commendably remained highly focused, principled and ethical on issues affecting the education sector”, the group added.
Umegboro, who had in the past also independently investigated the purported tampering of secondary school curriculum expressed confidence that Malam Adamu pursuant to his antecedents will not allow matters affecting education to be trivialized which is also the group’s driving force and synchronizes the present administration’s policy of redressing the monumental rots in the system.