The joy that has trailed the appointment of the former indicted and sacked Rector of Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) Enugu Prof. Edwin Onyeneje as Rector of the newly established Federal Polytechnic Ohodo, Igbo-Etiti LGA of Enugu State may have been cut short, following a strong- worded petition written recently against it by members of Concerned Citizens of Enugu State (CCES), who expressed dismay over the appointment, considering that Prof. Onyeneje was indicted and unceremoniously removed from office as Rector of IMT after being indicted by Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by Enugu State Government and had since then being prosecuted by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission ( ICPC) over corruption charges.
The petition dated April 12, 2021 signed by members of the group which include Dr. Winifred Asogwa, Dr. Steve Udegbunam, Dr. Mrs. Veronica Ogbodo, Mr. Chukwuma Ugwuagbo and Mr. Onyemaechi Nnaji and copied Chief of Staff to the President of Nigeria, Enugu State Governor, Honourable Minister of State for Education, Chairman of ICPC, Executive Secretary National Board For Technical Education and National President of Academic Staff Union of Polytechnic (ASUP) reads:
“Following the recent appointment of Principal Officers and Governing Council Members for the new Polytechnics and Colleges of Education, we the undersigned are constrained to alert you that a huge damage, although reversible, has been done to both the change and anti- corruption mantra of the President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) administration by the appointment of Professor Edwin Onyeneje as the Rector of the Federal Polytechnic Ohodo, Enugu State.
“Indeed, the people of Enugu State are shocked at what may have informed such a distasteful and embarrassing appointment which in all reasonableness marks a significant reversal of all the measures put in place by this administration to enthrone competence, public probity, and accountability in service. This disappointment and outcry is informed by the following:
- Professor Edwin Onyeneje was appointed Rector of the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu in October 2007 and was removed from office in October 2011by the Enugu State Government for generalised incompetence and abdication of responsibility following the withdrawal of accreditation of National Diploma (ND) and Higher Diploma (HND) programmes of IMT by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).
(see attachment A)
- A Judicial Commission of Inquiry instituted into the affairs of the Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu on 30th November 2011 by the then Governor of Enugu State of Nigeria, His Excellency, Governor Sullivan Iheanacho Chime, Esq found among others that: “The immediate past Rector (Professor Onyeneje) of the Institute failed to provide the required leadership in managing the affairs of the Institute especially with regard to the following:
(i) Failure to convene academic board meetings which is the highest decision making organ of the Institute on academic matters and thereby deprived the Institute of the benefit of obtaining the input of very high ranking and experienced colleagues in dealing with challenges in the Institute;
(ii) Failure to pro-actively engage with regulating agencies especially NYSC and NBTE after warning letters were issued to the Institute as far back as June 2011;
(iii) Failure to bring the issues contained in the letters to the attention of Governing Council of the Institute (Council), which should have in turn brought it to the attention of the Visitor;
(iv) Permitting the continuation of HND Public Administration
programme as a course of study in the institution without accreditation by the NBTE;
(v) Authorizing the mobilization of graduands for NYSC Batches A and B 2010/2011, in excess of approved number (The NBTE directed the non-mobilization of the students until the resolution of the matter, but the Rector authorized the mobilization of the students without further reference to the NBTE.); (vi) Abdication of his duty to the ASREC, Mr. Basil Offoh.
- The Commission went on to recommend as follows:
“The Commision considered the roles played by the immediate past Rector and other key officers of the Institute leading to non-compliance with academic rules and regulations. In view of this, the Rector and all persons who have held the positions of Deputy Rector, Director of Academic
Planning, Director of School of Business and Head of Department of Public Administration between November 2007 and November 2011 are found culpable for the non-compliance, and are therefore indicted”.
(Please, see attachment B)
- The commission also further recommended that for the breach of several sections of the financial regulations including the payment of the sum of N30,000,000 (thirty million Naira) without payment voucher, the Rector should be held accountable (please see pp 32-35 of the Judicial Commission’s report here attached as attachment C)
- While the Commission frowned at the sordid financial recklessness exhibited by the said former Rector, it recommended that further action be taken in respect of
the N1,000,000,000 (One Billion Naira) made available to the Institute by the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TET Fund).
“On invitation by the Institute authorities, ICPC was apprised of the matter, and after an exhaustive investigation, indicted and charged Professor Edwin Onyeneje and three others to the Federal High Court Enugu in SUIT NO.FHC/EN/CR/72/15. So far in the said suit, Professor Onyeneje and three others have made a no case submission, and the Court has ruled that they have a case to answer.
“Following from the above, two irrefutable realities objectifying the wrongful and detestable appointment of Professor Edwin Onyeneje as the Rector of Federal Polytechnic Ohodo are, first, that he was removed from office by the Enugu State
Government for a demonstrated incompetence in practically running the State Polytechnic, the Institute of Management and Technology, aground.
“He was further indicted by a Judicial Commission set up to look into the affairs of Institute.
“The appointment of Professor Onyeneje gives the impression that the appointing authorities view the actions of NBTE in withdrawing accreditation for all ND and HND courses in IMT under his watch, NYSC in banning IMT from NYSC scheme under his watch and State Government in removing him from office for dereliction of duty and incompetence as inconsequential.
“Onyeneje is under the indictment of ICPC and currently undergoing prosecution at the Federal High Court Enugu in the matter Ref. FHC/EN/CR/72/15 – Federal Republic of Nigeria Vs (1) Prof. E. Onyeneje, (2) Dr Leonard Ugwu, (3) Elder Frederick Onah, (4) Basil Offoh from which the court has recently ruled that these defendants have case to answer as charged for Stealing, Obtaining by false pretence, Malfeasance in office etc.
“The appointment of such a high level government official with such a humongous baggage by the Federal Government gives the impression that either no security check was conducted on him, or that his emergence was fraught with unimaginable schemes erected to collapse all fault lines including his indictments and ongoing prosecution by the same Federal Government.
“Is this not the same Government that came into office on anti-corruption mantra in 2015 and has been fighting corruption? Is this not the same Government that removed the Director General of National Broadcasting Commission Is’haq Moddibo Kawu from office in February 2020, for being prosecuted by the ICPC for the alleged corruption to the tune of N2.5b?
“Why now sparing and appointing Prof. Onyeneje that was removed from office as Rector of IMT, and under indictment and prosecution by ICPC as Rector of the newly established Federal Polytechnic Ohodo?
“What message is the Federal Government passing to Nigerians especially the people of Enugu State by such appointment? This is ridiculous and unbelievable. In this respect, we dare ask if the Federal Government does not have confidence in ICPC.
“Our surmise is that the appointing authorities have done grave injustice to the people of Enugu State, and damage to NBTE, ICPC, and indeed, the criminal justice system of this country by the appointment of Professor Onyeneje as the Rector of Federal Polytechnic Ohodo.
“While we leave the NBTE and ICPC to sort out the apparent rubbishing of their regulatory and investigatory roles with their Principal (FGN), we call the attention of the Federal Government to the deleterious consequences of sustaining this appointment.
“We seek an immediate reversal of the appointment of Professor Edwin Onyeneje as the Rector of Federal Polytechnic Ohodo, Enugu State, and have him replaced with another candidate, for the simple reasons of his demonstrated incompetence and indictments in this position previously and his ongoing prosecution by the Federal Government at the Federal High Court, Enugu.
“Professor Onyeneje should be allowed to purge himself of his criminal indictment already in the Federal High Court of Justice.”