Some officials in the ministries of science and technology and education have started moves to legalise the attestation letters of the former acting Director-General of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi, Chima Igwe.
Findings revealed that the latest plot was being led by a top officer in the legal department of the Ministry of Science and Technology.
Our correspondent was told that the officer had promised to take the documents to the Ministry of Education where they would be regularised to give Igwe re-entry into FIIRO.
Igwe was removed as the acting head of FIIRO after a report by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission revealed he had yet to conclude his doctoral degree.
He had, however, claimed to have finished the programme since 2001 and had got several promotions based on the phantom PhD.
Based on the ICPC indicting report, the governing board replaced him with a former Director of Production, Analytical and Laboratory Management, Dr Agnes Asagbra.
Igwe was said to have returned to his school and defended his thesis in February 2020, consequent upon which he was issued an attestation indicating he had completed the programme.
Our correspondent learnt that the top official in the legal department had taken up the document.
“The officer was actually the one who asked him to get the attestation and it would be combined with the one he brought in 2002. She is doing this because she had benefitted from the man in the past and thought this was an opportunity to pay him back,” a source said.
Another official said the ongoing process had the support of a powerful minister.
“So, do they plan to return him to FIIRO as DG? They dare not try that or else they would create more problems for themselves.
“What is important now is for the disciplinary committee sitting over his case in FIIRO to make their report public. They were inaugurated by the board three weeks ago and should have turned in their report. Nigerians want to see how just and incorruptible they are,” a union leader, who did not want to be identified, said.
The senior legal officer reported to be behind the plot declined reaction and demanded the names of her accusers.
“Who are you? Why are you calling me? Who are your sources? Those levelling the allegations, can I know their names? Who gave you my number?
“I am a public officer and you (should) come to me officially. I don’t deal with allegations. For over 30 years in my profession, I deal with facts. Give me the names of those people,” she said.
It was learnt that since the end of the protest against Igwe in FIIRO, the police operatives deployed in the institute had yet to leave.
An official of the institute said although a letter had been written to the state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, the cops were still on the premises.
“We don’t know their plans for keeping them here,” the official said.
Asked the reason for the continued presence of the police at FIIRO, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana, said he would find out and respond on Monday.
He had yet to do so as of press time.
Meanwhile, our correspondent learnt from a source that authorities at the Benin varsity were angry at the misrepresentation of their documents in Nigeria.
The PUNCH obtained a letter from the varsity to the Nigerian High Commission detailing Igwe’s academic records.
The document, written in French and signed by the Vice Rector, Academic, Professor Djimon Zannou, stated that Igwe did not complete his programme in 2001, adding that an attestation letter sent by the school in March 2019 was only proof of his studentship.
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