Professor Anthony Anwukah, President Buhari’s Ministerial nominee from Imo State has a case of fraud round his neck following his indictment by a government white paper on his tenure as Vice Chancellor of Imo State University, Owerri.
The white paper found Professor Anwukah, a former Secretary to the government of Imo State guilty of fraud, states an online report.
According to The Agendang.com which got an exclusively copy of the White Paper, Chapter fifteen (XV, page 35) of the White Paper described Anwukah as having laid the foundation for the rot plaguing the University and directed his immediate dismissal from the University. Professor Anwukah is an in-law to Governor Roachs Okorocha.
Okorocha has recommended Anwukah to President Buhari for appointment as Minister from Imo State, having failed in his earlier bid to get him appointed as Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Following the damning recommendations of the Visitation Panel, the state government directed the Governing Council of the University to immediately retire Professor Anthony Anwukah from the services of Imo State University, as against outright dismissal, as recommended by the panel.
It would be recalled that former governor of the state, Chief Ikedi Ohakim, through a letter with Ref. No. SGI/S.0928/T.3/X of 16th April, 2008, set up a Ten-man visitation Panel into the Affairs of Imo State University from 2004 to 2009.
Members of the Panel were: Hon. Justice S.A. Nsofor JCA (Rtd)-Chairman; Professor Nnamdi Asika, Barrister Mike Ezeala, Dr. Obi Njoku, Barrister Chidi Nworka, Major General S.A. Owuama (Rtd), Chief Mrs. Janet Okwara, Mr. George Emeghara, K.C. Nwokorie Esq and Mr. A.C.A. Duru.
Part of the Terms of Reference of the Visitation Panel were: to investigate the award of contracts in the University; to investigate the process and modalities of employment and promotion of staff in the University; to investigate the process and modalities for the conduct of post UME Examination at the University and to identify the revenue sources of the University and the amount accruing therefrom and to compare the total revenue with the total budgeted running cost of the University.
Others were: to investigate the procedure for admission and the administration of Pre-Degree Programmes; to investigate the procedure and management of admission into the University after conduct of Post UME and Pre-Degree examinations; generally make an all-embracing fact finding exercise into the affairs of the university from 2004-2009, among others.
“The Panel found that he laid the foundation for most of the rot that now plague Imo State University. Admission racketeering, which included admitting much more than the carrying capacity of the University and charging of fees from students for file jackets and processing; award of contracts with utter disregard to due process, for instance, a controversial contract for the rebuilding of the perimeter fence round his official residence, which he awarded by telephone from USA; the use and abuse of “personal/special assistants to circumvent the bursary in the furnishing of the Vice-chancellor’s (Anwukah’s) official residence, which he attempted to deny before the Panel”, stated the Panel Report as approved by the White Paper.
“He revealed himself to be a man who has grown bigger than the people he works with and is not amenable to control. He displayed insubordination to constituted authority in his department and faculty by arrogating to himself the power to choose which course and which students to teach, in total disdain of the faculty’s schedule, with its attendant breakdown of discipline.”
“His testimony before the Panel revealed a man who was rather economical with the truth. He bought and took away a brand new Mercedes Benz 15-seater bus at the end of his tenure, claiming that it was his legitimate retirement entitlement. This, the Panel found, is not true. It is stipulated in the approved remuneration/welfare package/end of tenure-retiring benefits for the Vice Chancellor/other principal officers of the Imo State University, Owerri, made by the Governing Council of the University on the 3rd day of December, 2004, that the vice chancellor shall be allowed to take away one official car on successful completion of his tenure of five years. That law did not permit a vice chancellor to buy and take home a bus as his end of tenure car, while still hanging on to his official car. Professor Anwukah, having fraudulently converted the said bus, should pay back to the university forthwith, the admitted value of the said bus which he himself put at N3.8m. There is need to examine critically the source of the wealth and opulence that Prof. Anwukah is basking in shortly after his tenure as vice chancellor.”
“The Panel was not at all satisfied with the explanation he gave as to how he acquired the fabulous house he resides in at Akanchawa Road, Owerri, particularly, given the fact that he also owns several other buildings in Owerri and Uli, Anambra State all acquired within the past ten years. He single-handedly terminated police investigation into the forged school fees receipt scandal involving some bursary staff, thereby shielding the culprits from possible prosecution. He should be dismissed from the University.”
Despite the indictment and a subsisting Court order, Professor Anwukah served as Secretary to the State Government –SSG under Governor Rochas Okorocha during his first tenure as executive governor of the state, a development many described as impunity.
Okorocha’s disobedience to Court Order
A non-governmental organization, Every Child Education and Advancement Foundation – ECEAF later obtained an order of Imo State High Court when Prof. Anwukah was appointed SSG, directing his sack, following the indictment, an order Okorocha refused to obey, The Agenda stated.
Sources close to governor Okorocha revealed to The Agenda online that Okorocha came under pressure in his first tenure to relieve his in-law, Professor Anwukah of his position as Secretary to the State Government, following his indictment for fraud by a White Paper on his tenure as Vice Chancellor of Imo State University, Owerri and a subsequent Court ruling on same.
In a petition to the Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, dated 2nd March, 2013 entitled: “Sack Anwuka and others now and save our democracy,” a non-governmental organization, Every Child Education and Advancement Foundation – ECEAF made a case for obedience of a Court order directing the sack of the then SSG, Anthony Anwuka.
The petition, signed by the Foundation’s Executive Director and Secretary, urged the State Assembly to step into the matter, with a view to ensuring that the order of the Court was obeyed.
“We have waited patiently to see the government led by His Excellency Owelle Rochas Okorocha obey the Court ruling given by a reputable Judge of Imo State High Court on the 29th of January 2013 which ordered the sack of all those indicted by the Imo State University –IMSU White Paper in this present administration, to no avail.”
“As a Non-Governmental Organization, we have been adversely affected by the appointment of such people who were indicted by the IMSU White Paper. Our thematic area, which is helping to build on the morality of the Nigerian child has had so many set-backs since the appointment of such persons into positions of public trust as the youths now reference such people as a case study to justify crime and immorality, believing that there is reward in criminality, considering the appointment of such persons as Prof. Anthony Anwukah and others who were indicted of fraud. It is indeed contradictory to the project of sanitizing the moral decadence amongst our youths,” the petition reads in part.
All efforts to reach Professor Anwukah for comments proved abortive, as his mobile line could not be reached.
Stakeholders have frowned at governor Okorocha’s choice of Professor Anwuka for recommendation as Imo’s candidate for Ministerial slot in President Buhari’s cabinet.
A non-governmental organization, Human Rights and Transparency Watch sees the development as an embarrassment to the Buhari administration and warned that it will challenge same in court if the Senate goes ahead to confirm him.
Coordinator of the group, Frankly Nwaorisa, who bared his mind during a telephone chat with The Agenda online urged the President to reconsider the candidate, in the interest of his administration’s image.
According to him, appointing persons indicted for corruption into the same cabinet that is expected to have zero tolerance for corruption makes mockery of the entire idea and does not suggest any seriousness on the part of Buhari in his so-much talked about anti-graft war.
Other citizens, particularly, APC stakeholders took turns to lambast the choice of Professor Anwuka, describing governor Okorocha’s motive as selfish and unacceptable.