AAU: Obaseki hands off alleged N2bn tax fraud, certificate racketeering saga

Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, has handed the alleged N2 billion tax fraud, transcript, certificate racketeering and other outrageous acts that have been uncovered in the Ambrose Alli University (AAU) through the Special Intervention Team to anti-graft agencies for investigation and prosecution of the culprits.

The Governor gave his approval when he received the Report of the probe panel raised by the Government to unravelled corrupt practices and other related matters when he received the Management saddled with the repositioning the institution.

Governor Godwin Obaseki, said “The greatest legacy for late Prof. Ambrose Alli is to restore this University back to its glory days and that of his dreams.

He clarified that the University was never intended to be an ethnic University, but a State University and positioned it as such.

“The University belongs to the Edo people. It’s Edo State University and the investment is for taxpayers of Edo State”, Obaseki said security agencies will commence action and investigation on the criminal aspect of your findings the Report.

He said, “As a government, we have the political will as we are taking a major transformation in our education sector and can do so with our University. We need to clean up the system, preparing it for our children coming in.”

Presenting the Report, Mr. Andrew Olotu, team lead and Managing Director of Schlumberger Nigeria Ltd, also unravelled other corrupt practices by the management and staff of the University.

The interim report, which was presented to the Governor on Thursday in Government House, Benin City, alleged massive certificate and transcript racketeering and other nefarious acts in the ivory tower.

Mr. Austin Osakue, human rights activist, noted that “over N2 billion was owed the Edo State Government from the tax that was never paid to the state government. AAU receives more salaries compared to the University of Benin (UNIBEN) staff and they never pay taxes.

According to the report, “All the Internally Generated Revenues (IGRs) and school fees collected were not accounted for and all the money entered private pockets instead of the school purse. We have been able to check this excess and now are able to collect N32 million in taxes for the Edo State Government.

“One of the biggest problems in AAU is overhead spending on diesel. Following the bad electricity situation in Ekpoma, the staff of the institution are cashing in on the situation to steal money from the treasury”.

The Report revealed that the issue of certificates and transcripts is a big business in AAU and has caused the University a bad image, adding, “Students who graduated from 2019 to 2021 have not collected their certificates as there are people who collect money from students for this cause”.

Part of the Report said, “The SIT paid a loan of N330 million collected to pay salaries in 2021 and another N20 million which was meant for the purchase of special vehicles. Students pay heavily for projects. We have paid the April salaries of staff.

“Government has said the University should key into the Contributory Pension Scheme and the staff of the institution refused to key in and continued with the normal pension. We have invited PFA and have made presentations. We are working to see how to get the workers into the scheme.”

Also speaking, Mr. Omobude Agho, a representative of civil society organizations in Edo State, commended the team for a great job, urging the governor to ensure the immediate investigation and prosecution of those involved in the fraud in the state-owned University.

He noted that the University is for Edo people and not for a particular ethnic group, hailing the governor’s commitment to repositioning the school to meet global standards.

Agho said, “I want to appreciate the SIT for the report and thank you for all the troubles you have gone through and appreciate you for the victory achieved so far.

“The last time I led Edo civil society organizations to Ekpoma, they were trying to hide some of these things you mentioned, but they didn’t know that we were on ground two days before the meeting and went around to observe them.”

He added, “We observed that there is this ethnic right of ownership of AAU. Some people think it’s a gift presented to them by the late Ambrose Alli so that they can use it to sustain themselves.

“That is not correct. The University belongs to Edo people and not to certain people. It’s our property and should be owned by all of us. This should be explained by His Excellency himself, letting the people know that the University is for Edo people.”

TheNewspad recalls that members of Academic staff Union of Universities (ASUU), AAU Chapter, had opposed the sacking of the Governing Council of the University and setting up of SIT, which is saddled with the responsibility of repositioning the University over issues of workers welfare and lack of autonomy.

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