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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has summoned the acting Vice-Chancellor of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Prof. Anthony Elujoba, and Bursar, Mrs. Aderonke Akeredolu, over the payment of an ‘unapproved’ hazard allowances to the institution’s workers.
The allowances paid to the academic and non-academic staff, our correspondents gathered, were over N1bn.
It was learnt that the allowances were sourced from the university’s endowment funds account, which is usually dedicated for projects.
But the spokesperson for the university, Mr. Biodun Olarewaju, argued that the specific fund used in paying the allowances was not attached to any project in the account.
It was also gathered that certain allowances earmarked for the office of the VC were also being investigated by the federal agency.
The invitation was confirmed in a letter exclusively obtained by our correspondents on Monday.
The letter, signed by Mr. Oseni Kazeem of the Southwest Zonal Office of the commission in Ibadan, Oyo State, advised the invited officers to come along with necessary documents.
The letter reads in part, “The office is currently investigating a case in which there is the need to obtain clarification from you. In view of the foregoing, you and your bursar are requested to report to our office for an interview.
“You are also to come along with the following documents: the salary payment schedule/any other payment made to senior staff and junior staff in August and September, 2016; payment vouchers relating to furniture allowances paid to the VC from the day he assumed office to date; certified true copies of the monthly salary pay slips of the VC from the day he assumed office to date.”
When contacted on the telephone on Monday, Olarewaju said the payment of the allowances should not be tagged as misappropriation.
He said, “The acting VC has been invited by the EFCC to come and make some clarification and as a law abiding citizen, he will attend. Afterwards, we will know what to do.
“The fund used to pay the allowances cannot amount to misappropriation. The said money was not attached to any project or anything. It was just in the account. And, of course, when the life of a member of the staff of the university was threatened by those who are agitating for the payment, the acting VC had to save the situation by paying the allowances to douse the tension.
“You will agree with me that, since then, there have been peace on campus. It was not that the money was in that account for a particular project and was diverted. The issue of misappropriation does not arise here.”
One of our correspondents learnt that upon resumption of office, the acting VC paid hazard allowances to the workers after continuous protest and unrest in the university.
It would be recalled that the hazard allowances were a major reason why members of the Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities and the Senior Staff Association of Nigeria Universities at the institution protested against the former administration headed by Prof. Bamitale Omole.