A massive fraud may have been uncovered in the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO), based on a petition to the Honourable Chairman of the Independent Corrupt Practises and Other Related Offence Commission (ICPC) made available to us.
In the petition, one Mr. Uche Nwokeji, a Treasurer of SSANU, was accused of embezzlement of the sum of N118 million from its coffers.
Even more intriguing is the dexterity with which the money was reportedly stolen.
Below is a full text of the petition addressed to the Honourable Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, Abuja:
Petition for embezzlement of the sum of N118 million by SSANU treasurer, Mr Uche Nwokeji
The whistle blower policy set up by the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has been a huge success in the fight against corruption. The fight against corruption should not be restricted to government officials alone, but also to all facets of the society, labour unions inclusive. It is on the strength of the forgoing that I have come forward to write this petition.
There are prima facie evidence indicating that one Mr. Uche Nwokeji who is the Treasurer of the Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU), Federal University of Technology, Owerri branch and late Mr. Franklin Mathews (Immediate past Chairman of the union) had mismanaged, misappropriated and embezzled funds belonging ‘to the union, to the tune of N118 million, being funds accruable to the union for the past four (4) years. SSANU being a registered and recognized union has a constitution guiding the officers and members of the union. It might interest you to note that the duo of the late Chairman and the Treasurer since they assumed office on October 5, 2016 till date had unilaterally managed the finances of the union arbitrarily and without compliance with the constitution.
The way and manner the financial transactions of the union have been shrouded in secrecy presupposes a fraudulent intent by the late Chairman Mr. Mathews and Mr. Nwokeji Treasurer. Article 15(ii) of the Constitution and Order of Procedure of SSANU provides that the Treasure shall run the account of the Branch with the Chairperson and Secretary who shall be signatories of the account. However, it is on record that the union account has been operated by only the late Chairman and the Treasurer without the Secretary.
Article 15 (e) of the constitution provides that the Treasurer shall render financial account annually and at the quadrennial Delegates conference. Contrary to this provision of the constitution, the Treasurer has deliberately refused to render account to members since the past four (4) years he assumed office. This has kept members completely in the dark as to the financial state of the union. Instead the late Chairman and the Treasurer kept spending the union money without approval from, neither the Branch Executive Committee nor the congress of members. The late Chairman and the Treasurer single handedly purchased a 2004 model Toyota Highlander official vehicle at inflated cost of N7million when the market price of the vehicle was about N2.5m. In addition, they have failed and neglected to pay welfare benefits to members for the past four (4) years.
After the death of the Chairman in June 2020, the Treasurer has refused to make both the Acting Chairman Mrs. Agnes Nti and the Secretary Mr. Aku signatories to the union accounts. The Treasurer has been singularly operating the union account without recourse to the Acting Chairperson and other offices of the union. I was reliably informed that he freely transfers mnoney from the union account into his personal account, from where he disburses cash.
Last month I was reliably informed that the union received a deposit of the sum of N13million being check off dues accruable to the union as deducted by the Federal Government vide the IPPIS platform. The Treasurer fraudulently lied by telling the Branch Executives that what the union received was the sum of N9 million. And the Treasurer went ahead to withdraw the sum of N9 million from the union account without the knowledge, approval or written consent of the Acting Chairperson. How he was able to make the withdrawal without he signature of the Acting Chairman and Secretary beats the imagination ofa reasonable person.
Article 15(f) of the constitution provides that the Financial Secretary shall keep accurate account of the Branch monetary transactions; and collect and record all monies accruing to the Branch. It is on the record that since the past four (4) years the Financial Secretary does not have any record of the financial transactions of the union because the late chairman and the Treasurer has managed the finances of the union solely and secretively. This is clearly unconstitutional, criminal and illegal.
The tenure of the late Chairman and the Branch Executives including the Treasurer had elapsed on October 5, 2020. Based on this, the Treasurer does not have the powers to continue to operate the union’s account or do any other transaction on behalf of the union. But I was reliably informed that since the expiration of his tenure on October 5, 2020, the Treasurer has single handedly and arbitrarily withdrawn the sum of over N15 million from the union accounts.
Article 27 (i) of the constitution provides that any office holder elected to another union office or who vacaes office shall be deemed to have resigned from the former office and a letter of resignation should be delivered to the Executive Committee within seven (7) days. He is also to handover the union properly including records, cash (if any) and whatever property of the union in his possession to any union official so designated, immediately or as soon as possible thereafter, but not later than one (1) month from the date of election.
The Treasurer has refused to comply with the above constitutional provision since his tenure expired on October 5, 2020. Instead, he has continued to operate the union account as if itwere his personal account.
Again the constitution states that members going for National Delegates Conference to elect the new national executives of the union shall be nominated at each Branch Congress. Unfortunately the late Chairman colluded with the Treasurer to submit a list of delegates from FUTO Branch without following due process. It is believed that the errant Treasurer is being backed by the National President of SSANU, Mr. Samson Ugwoke, who reportedly is interested in installing his successor at the forthcoming national executives’ election. As a result he needs the support and votes of FUTO branch delegates to achieve his selfish interest and in turn it was reliably gathered that Mr.Ugwoke has perfected plans to appoint the Treasurer Acting chairman of the FUTO branch. Mr. Ugwoke has also been accused by many to be a beneficiary of the loot syphoned from the FUTO Branch Treasury. Also, members are angry with the fact that the late Chairman and the Treasurer wastes the union funds on frivolous unofficial activities such as lodging in hotels with amorous women, some of whom are staff of the university.
Sir, the members of the union have become restive over the financial crimes committed by that late Chairman and the Treasurer and there may be a breakdown of law and order in the university, if urgent steps are not taken to arrest the situation.
Consequently, I call upon you to use your good office to thoroughly investigate tne activities of the suspect between 2016-2020 viz a viz the finances of the union, and if found wanting, let the law take its due course.
I also request that the bank account of the union be blocked for the time being pending the outcome of the investigations.
The details of the union’s bank account are as follows:
1. Diamond Bank Account NO: 0004104149
2. Union Bank Account NO: 0012502319 & 0039239399
3. FUTO MicrofinanceBank Account NO: 0011101111 & 0011141248
Thank you for your prompt response and kind consideration.
Mr. Edison Ugwumba