President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to commence prosecution of former Acting Director, Federal Institute of Industrial Research (FIIRO), Oshodi, Lagos State, Mr. Chima Igwe, for manipulating his educational status to exploit the system for personal gains.
The President in a letter to the Minister of Science, Technology, and Innovation, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu said Igwe is not qualified for the position of Director General and should not be considered as the substantive head of the agency.
The letter, signed by Ibrahim Dikko Adamu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Administration and Operation, also urged Onu to stop interfering in the running of FIIRO and allow the board to do its job.
Igwe was caught in a web of dirty scams after submitting a Doctor of Philosophy certificate that was later discovered to be fake.
The doctorate which he claimed he completed at the Universite D’Abomey Calavi, Benin Republic, in 2001, is non-existent.
An investigation by ICPC indicted him and he was demoted to the position he held more than 18 years ago but he refused to resume at the post.
The minister, who was said to have had several face-offs with the Board Chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Gwarzo in Abuja, also ordered that he (Igwe) should be reinstated as the acting DG.
The minister was alleged to have later accused the governing board of financial misappropriation, but panels set up by the Nigerian government to investigate the matter found no evidence for such.
The Chief of Staff to the President, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, on December 4, 2020, while responding to correspondence from Onu for Igwe to be confirmed as DG, ordered the Head of Service (HoS) to look into his certificate issue.
A committee was set up and several people were interviewed, including Igwe.
In February, the HoS submitted her report.
The document stated, “The Governing Board of FIIRO should immediately commence the process of the appointment of a substantive Director-General in accordance with Section 22.214.171.124 (a) and (d) of the Conditions of Service for Federal Research and Development Agencies, Institutes and Colleges (Revised 2019) and in line with Mr President’s directive.
“The Governing Board should commence disciplinary procedures against Dr Chima Cartney Igwe, in line with the provisions of PSR 030302 to 030307, for: absence from duty without leave or permission; refusal to carry out lawful instructions from superior authority to revert to Chief Research Officer.
“The Governing Board should be commended for the transparent, fair, and mature manner it has handled the issue of the Ph.D of Dr Igwe.
“The honourable minister (FMST) should be advised to allow the Governing Board of FIIRO to operate freely within the ambit of the provisions of extant regulations guiding the relationship between the ministry and parastatals, and handle the staff matters in line with the provisions of the conditions of service in FIIRO.”