A FORMER vice chancellor of Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike, Abia state, has failed to return six pool vehicles, amounting to N95 million, the 2020 audit by the Office of the Auditor-General of the Federation (OAuGF) has revealed.
According to the report, released in December 2023 and made available to the public recently, the university’s former vice-chancellor did not return the vehicles despite the expiration of his designated term of use.
The vehicles were expected to be returned after the vice chancellor’s term.
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While the OAuGF did not explicitly mention the name of the vice-chancellor in the report, Francis Otunta, a professor of Mathematics, served as the university vice-chancellor during the period captured by the audit.
Otunta died in a car accident a few weeks after he left office.
According to the audit report, the cars are three black Toyota Prado Jeeps, two black Toyota Corolla Salons, and one Lexus Jeep with different registration numbers.
The OAuGF noted that the action by the former vice chancellor was in contravention of the provisions of extant regulations.
Citing the Paragraph One of the Establishment Circular Ref. No. SGF. 19/S.52/V/720 dated 20th February 2017, which states that “as part of measures to curb this undesirable practice by officers, permanent secretaries and chief executive officers of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) are henceforth to ensure painstaking and strict clearance of retiring officers who should be made to submit all government properties in their custody before their final disengagement from service…”
Similarly, paragraph 112 (I) of the Financial Regulations (FR) 2009 gives the accounting officer power to ensure the safety and proper maintenance of all government assets under his care.
Furthermore, paragraph 2001 of the FR 2009 states, “The accounting officer shall be responsible for ensuring that there are effective controls in the use of government vehicles.”
While attributing the risk to the loss of public assets and diversion of government assets for personal use, the Auditor General’s Office recommended that the National Assembly request the vice-chancellor justify the illegal possession of government vehicles.
It also stated that the vice-chancellor should be made to remit N95 million to the treasury and forward evidence of remittance to the National Assembly public accounts committees.
The report emphasised that the failure of the former vice chancellor to carry out the recommendations should warrant sanctions relating to gross misconduct and non-payment for the use of government property in paragraphs 3129 and 3113 of the FR 2009.
In addition to the vice chancellor’s infractions, the OAuGF exposed 21 other scandals and abuse of office within the university between January 2018 and December 2019.