EducationInvestigationNews

Scandalous: How Nto diverts ASCETA’s billions, properties to self — Staff

Academic and non-Academic Staff of Abia State College of Education Technical Arochukwu (ASCETA) have revealed how misappropriation of Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFUND), dubious sales of school properties and award of contracts by the Provost, Dr Philip Nto left the institution in ruin.

Senior staff who are in the know said the theft of ASCETA grants, is aided by the TETFUND officials who collect kickbacks on every inspection to approve poorly executed projects that did not meet specifications.

They also accused the Provost, Dr Nto of using proxies to award several building contracts worth millions of naira to himself. He was also said to have auctioned several vehicles belonging to ASCETA to himself and cronies without due process.

One of our sources who has spent more than 14-years in the institution said TETFUND grant comes annually and ASCETA under the leadership of Dr Nto has received it three times.

According to him, “the first was combined sum of N750 million from 2014, 15 and 16 grants.  We received another N750 million in 2018, and N1 billion for 2019 is processed as we speak.” 

He said a TETFUND project valued for about N15 million was approved last year for the renovation of 2012-Degree Hall but was changed by the provost after its approval. 

“He diverted the N15 million into the renovation of the old administration block that was smaller in size. Not up to N3 million was spent, and the rest money disappeared. The job was done haphazardly and staff asked to move in without electricity and water. The old doors and toilet materials were not changed,” he said.

Another lecturer who craved anonymity said the N750 million TETFUND grant was for the execution of three projects; the School of Business Education, the School of Arts and Social Sciences and the Theatre Hall. 

“The School of Business is a two-storey building handled by Dr Nto through a proxy – PRESTO Nigeria Limited -. It has no handrail, air-conditioned and furnishing but all these were in the bill of quantities,” he said.

According to him, “The School of Science has all the facilities but some air-conditioners were missing after they were delivered to the college. The big heads must have shared them. The theatre hall is completed without air-conditioned also.”

He also added, “None of this building has water yet TETFUND officials went ahead to approve them despite that they did not meet specification. It is because they were settled if not, there’s no reason why they would approve projects that did not meet specifications.”

We understand that alongside these three building was also a contract awarded to PRESTO NIG LTD for the provision of Innoson 23 seater bus.

“The bus is yet to arrive till now, and no explanation whatsoever is given,” he said.   

The Realm News also gathered that on May 16, 2019, when the lecturers were on strike, the provost sold off the college vehicles to himself and the bursar, Mr Anthony Odoemelam.

They were alleged to have shared the Toyota Hiace (Hummer) buses and sold the leftovers to his (Ututu) kinsmen.

“Dr Nto said the money will be used to pay part of our salaries. But up till now, nothing has happened. The amount realised from the sale of the buses is still kept secret as we speak,” our source said. 

He further said that one of the tractors bought for the college was also sold to Linto farms Ihechiowa, Arochukwu by the management.

The lecturers also alleged that the school’s internally generated revenue is diverted to private pockets despite the institution not receiving its monthly subvention for 19 months and counting. 

 “Some accounts were newly opened for students to pay fees. Some of the accounts bear the name of the bursar, Mr Anthony Odoemelam instead of that of ASCETA and no explanation has been offered in respect to that strange arrangement,” he said.

With this embezzlement galore ongoing, Dr Nto was said to have increased the wage bill of the college despite student population reducing drastically from 3,500 to approximately 500 in his first tenure of four years.

“Since assumption, he has employed not less than 50 staff mostly from his place Ututu Arochukwu thereby increasing the wage bill of the college. Just last November, he handpicked another retiree from Ministry of information Umuahia, Mr Iyke Odoemelam and made him the Registrar against laid down rules,” our source also revealed.

Other lecturers and non-academic staff who spoke to us accused Dr Nto of promoting his allies to higher levels leaving out staff with better academic qualifications.

“The college cashier, one Ikenna Chijioke graduated last year and was converted because he covers his boss the bursar while many who applied since ten years ago are left out.

“He sacked the demonstration school ad-hoc staff and employed his village boy and promoted him to level eight, while people have spent 14-years as graduates on level seven. One Chief Solomon Iheonunekwu, (Ngwa man) who was to retire last year is still in service because he covers and supports the provost.”

They added, “It’s like the power in Umuahia is benefitting from the TETFUND windfall. That is why they blocked every move aimed at removing Dr Nto. I guess that is why the governor decided to abandon the college by not giving subvention for 19 months and counting.” 

Following these grave accusations, The Realm News MD/EIC contacted ASCETA Provost, Dr Philip Nto. The one-hour interview was revealing and thought-provoking.

To be continued on Thursday next week.

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