InvestigationNews

Abia: How T. A. Orji’s government, EFCC triggered ASCETA scandal

The financial and leadership crises threatening to plunge Abia State College of Education Technical, Arochukwu (ASCETA) into extinction was the making of the administration of Theodore A. Orji’s and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), The Realm News gathered.

T. A. Orji, now a serving senator, was governor of Abia State from 2007 to 2015.

An ongoing investigation by our team of reporters reveals the politicisation of appointments by the Orji-led Abia government triggered the flood that could now submerge ASCETA. The emergence of C. N. Nwamuo as provost in 2011 is of note.

The appointees were said to have seen their appointments as a reward for loyalty and opportunity to enrich themselves.

“Nwamuo had no prerequisite to become ASCETA provost. His loyalty to Governor T. A. Orji and natives gave him the job,” one of the lecturers told our reporter.

Our source said Nwamuo was a civil servant nearing retirement before his appointment, “he, therefore, saw it as an opportunity to stash enough funds for his post-employment life.”

Nwamuo was said to have introduced some awkward policies including the insensitive astronomic hike in tuition fees and levies. These, we understand, led to enrolment apathy.

“Students’ population during the time of Professor Nkemakolam was about 3500 and tuition fee between N18,000 and N25,000 depending on levels. But Nwamuo hiked it to between N35,000 and N40,000. He also increased the certificate fee to N23,000 and the statement of result to N5,000. He hiked clearance fee to N8,000,” our source said.

He further said that Nwamuo increased degree students’ tuition to N80,000 per session from N50,000 despite receiving an annual subvention of N234 million and about N598 million Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND).

Despite the astronomical increase in fees and levies, ASCETA under Nwamuo’s administration did not pay its affiliated institution, Abia State University (ABSU) their fee, we discovered.

“In response, ABSU stopped our students from going to service by not enlisting them for NYSC. Our students roamed the streets after graduation for six years until last month when the government intervened,” our source said.

According to our source, despite the increment in tuition fees, levies and TETFUND, infrastructures were dilapidated and projects, such as the School of Technical Education building, collapsed during construction.

“Parents started withdrawing their children from school. Instead of positive response, the government of the day openly supported the corruption and embezzlement of funds by the leadership of the institution,” our source said.

To lend credence to his allegation that the government aided and abetted the misappropriation of ASCETA funds running into hundreds of millions of naira, he cited an instance where the then governor T. A. Orji approved a loan of N87 million for a project and instructed the management to use the student account at First Bank for the loan.

“Nwamuo abandoned the project for which loan was granted for by the First Bank and started painting a few blocks. When the governing council confronted him, he claimed that he had spent N47 million.

“There was serious bickering because he did not seek the consent of the school governing council before diverting the money. So the governing council decided that he would not be returned as a provost for another tenure to save ASCETA from total collapse. But when Nwamuo discovered this, he ran to the governor,” he said.

Our source said that the then Governor Orji invited the governing council members to enquire what the problem was. The members were said to have told him that Nwamuo would not go for the second tenure because of his inability to give a proper account of expense made.

The governor was said to have shouted at them for “troubling” Nwamuo his kinsman.

Orji was quoted to have said: “Are you people the governor to decide for me who goes and who stays? Why can’t you people leave Nwamuo alone? He has been a civil servant all this while without anything. Do you people want him to go home after retirement without building a house of his own?”

We learnt that he walked them out of his office and threatened to dissolve the council if they do not stop troubling Nwamuo; a threat he later carried out.

Our source told of how some members of the governing council and distraught lecturers voluntarily gave information to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC).

“Some wanted their names to be included to trigger their arrest to enable them to make a revelation of financial misappropriation against Nwamuo. But they were invited to Abuja severally, by the officials who freed them without investigation or prosecution.

“EFCC is one of the problems of Abia State. They have continuously frustrated people who voluntarily gave out information instead of prosecuting the offenders.

“We will like to know the reason why they released some of us who voluntarily gave them information after a few days without further investigation, arrest and prosecution of Nwamuo,” he said.

Next week, The Realm News will reveal how Dr Philip Nto finally nailed ASCETA’s casket; the mass embezzlement and dubious awards of contracts to his firm, and the illegal auctioning of ASCETA’s properties. Don’t miss it.

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