THE Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) is investigating claims of corruption and abuse of office, among other allegations levelled against the Registrar of the Joint Admissions Matriculations Board (JAMB), Ishaq Oloyede.
The allegations were contained in a petition sent to the Bureau by a former JAMB staff member, Yisa Usman, in July 2023.
Responding to the allegations, the Bureau invited Usman to adopt the petition through a document dated January 9, 2024 and signed by the CCB director of Investigation, Intelligence and Monitoring, Gwimi S.P.
The document, seen by The ICIR, also hinted at ongoing investigations based on allegations in the petition.
“This invitation is to enable you adopt the aforementioned petition and to provide any additional information that may be material to this investigation,” the document partly read.
The ICIR reached out to a source within the Bureau who further confirmed the investigations under the condition of anonymity for lack of authorisation to speak on the issue.
“We are investigating the Registrar for a number of infractions, and the infractions you cited are just a few. There are many more that we are investigating under abuse of office. I can confirm that the investigation is active. We have received a petition against the Registrar and one or two other principal officers,” the source disclosed.
Alleged violation of TSA guidelines
In his petition, Usman alleged that Oloyede approved the transfer of funds from the Treasury Single Account (TSA) into private accounts, including those belonging to principal officers at JAMB, such as Head, Public Affairs and Protocol Fabian Benjamin and Director of Finance and Account (DFA) Mufutau Bello.
The ICIR attempt to reach Bello was unsuccessful, as the number was not connecting.
While providing various Remita reference numbers for different transactions, Usman alleged that a total of N92.9 million was moved from the TSA into Benjamin’s account between 2018 and 2019, while N146.5 million was transferred into Bello’s account in 2018.
Oloyede was also accused of directly crediting accounts of state coordinators with N2.2 million naira for the purchase of office computers. Some directors also had money paid into their accounts for official vehicles, contravening Nigeria’s Public Sector Financial Regulation Act (2009).
Section 713 of the Act (under Chapter Seven) states that “personal money shall in no circumstances be paid into a government bank account, nor shall any public money be paid into a private bank account. An officer who pays public money into a private account is deemed to have done so with fraudulent intention.”
Secret recruitment of staff
The petition also queried the Registrar’s recruitment of over 500 staff without publicly declaring vacancies as provided by the Federal Character Principle in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Oloyede appeared before the House of Representatives in August 2023, where an ad hoc committee probed him for recruiting about 300 staff without advertising vacancies.
Oloyede responded to the queries, saying JAMB carried out the recruitment relying on a waiver from the Federal Character Commission (FCC) due to a lack of time.
He said JAMB needed staff to man about 12 centres at the time and wrote to the FCC seeking to waive the advertising process.
“We used the waiver because we believe the exigency of the time and the nature of our work deserves it. If we were to advertise for the three hundred, we wouldn’t be able to meet up with what we needed them for.
“I believe very strongly that it was very, very necessary at that time that we recruited, and I assure you that we did not surcharge those who are qualified,” Oloyede said.
However, the committee chairman, Yusuf Gagdi, termed his explanation unsatisfactory, stating that many qualified Nigerians had been denied the opportunity to apply for the vacant positions due to the secret recruitment process.
Gagdi noted that government agencies were abusing the FCC waiver as the law only allows waivers for recruitment of staff less than 100.
“What makes you think advertising wouldn’t have been better? You have the capacity to screen the people that apply to get better hands to do those jobs. I’m asking this because we are most interested in correcting the fraud associated with waivers,” Gagdi said during the probe.
In his petition to the CCB, Usman alleged that Oloyede sought the approval of the former Minister of Education Adamu Adamu to dismiss him from service barely five years to retirement for drawing attention to his clandestine activities.
The ICIR reached out to JAMB’s Head, Public Affairs and Protocol, Fabian Benjamin, on the allegations included in the petition. He did not return the calls, and he is yet to respond to a text message sent to his phone line several days ago before the time of filing this report.
Oloyede was appointed as JAMB Registrar for the second time by former President Muhammadu Buhari in 2021.
JAMB sued for wrongful dismissal, violation of PWD Act
Meanwhile, Usman has also filed a suit against the board for unlawful dismissal.
In a suit filed at the National Industrial Court (NIC), Usman urged the court to declare his dismissal as void since it did not comply with JAMB’s Staff Manual and Conditions of Service.
He also urged the court to order his reinstatement, payment of all salaries due to him, and award him damages to cover the cost of action.
Other prayers in the suit include “an order compelling the defendant to promote the claimant as the director of finance and account, being the most senior and qualified director in the Finance Department; the current director of finance and account, having been holding that office illegally since May 9, 2022, when he turned 60 years old.
“Exemplary damages in the sum of N150, 000, 000.00 (one hundred and fifty million naira) for illegally and unlawfully dismissing the claimant as well as the emotional, reputational, psychological pain and trauma caused by the malicious, illegal, and arbitrary actions of the defendant,” the suit read.