By Joseph Erunke
FORMER Acting Registrar, National Examinations, NECO, Abubakar Gana, has debunked allegation levelled against him by an online media platform that he embezzled the sum of N368.875 million while he held sway in the examination’s body.
He, however, said the alleged sum said to have been generated during the June/July 2018 registration of SSCE, was discovered missing before his tenure.
Gana, in a statement he personally authored and released to newsmen, Sunday, in Abuja, insisted that contrary to the media report, his hands were clean.
He said: “For the avoidance of doubt, I was appointed as Acting Registrar of NECO on May 10, 2018 while the purported incident occurred on December 18, 2017, at least, five months before my appointment.
“It must, however, be put on record that the infractions were uncovered by the Council in 2017 under the watchful eyes of Former Registrar, Prof Charles Uwakwe, but nothing was done to bring the perpetrators to book.”
The statement read in full: “My attention has been drawn to a malicious report of September 25, 2020, in which the online platform alleged that I siphoned N368, 875 million generated during the June/July 2018 registration of SSCE, while I was Acting Registrar of the National Examinations Council (NECO).
“Ordinarily, I would not have bothered to dignify the half-truths and fabrications contained in the publication with a response, but for the purpose of setting the records straight.
“For the avoidance of doubt, I was appointed as Acting Registrar of NECO on May 10, 2018 while the purported incident occurred on December 18, 2017, at least, five months before my appointment.
“It must, however, be put on record that the infractions were uncovered by the Council in 2017 under the watchful eyes of Former Registrar, Prof Charles Uwakwe, but nothing was done to bring the perpetrators to book.
“When I took over the affairs of the Council in 2018, the misappropriation was officially reported to me, a development that led to the setting up of both Management and Board Committees for investigation.
“Upon our investigations, two officials of the Council were indicted and thereby recommended for dismissal. Not satisfied with the outcome of the investigation, the officials petitioned the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges in the Eight Assembly, which also found them culpable of misappropriation but however pleaded for leniency, a request that was rejected by the Board.
“How could I have stolen money before my appointment as Registrar? My administration fought corruption to a standstill by ensuring that monies generated by the council went straight to the Treasury Single Account of the Federal Government.
“Under my administration as Acting Registrar of NECO, the Council carried out major reforms and recorded significant strides. Between 2010 and 2017, NECO generated N900 million but in two years, we returned over N2 billion, generated as proceeds from the conduct of examination, to the federation account with outstanding states indebtedness to the Council for 2018 and 2019 growing up to N1,045,047,140.00 billion.
“The council also abolished the use of scratch cards to ensure that monies generated go directly to the treasury single account. It also worked to ensure the reduction of the examination registration fee from N11,350 to 9,850.
My administration generated N600 million per annum from checking of result, from an initial N30 million. For the first time, the Council audited itself and dismissed over 100 staff with fake certificates.
“The only sin I committed was to carry out a presidential directive by dismissing the erring staff, who have now made me a target of their campaign of calumny.
“Also, for the first time, the council purchased 20 Toyota Hilux vehicles from its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to aid its logistic challenges. It is noteworthy that in my administration, NECO also carried out extensive reforms to improve the integrity of its examination by purchasing 8,000 biometric verification machines, in an attempt to eliminate the issue of identity theft.
“From these, and many more achievements recorded during my two-year stint in office, the barrage of allegations targeted at me by SaharaReporters and its ilk, is a case of corruption fighting back.
“I wish to register my disappointment that the media outfit, has relegated its duty of properly informing members of the public and resorted to cheap blackmail and dereliction of facts.
I, therefore, direct the management of the media outfit to retract the publication cited above and tender an unreserved apology to me in not less than two national dailies, within 48 hours, else I will seek redress in court.”