THE National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) is being rocked by series of allegations of fraud and misappropriation of funds.
Management staff of the agency are at the centre of the allegations, which are already subject of various petitions and ongoing investigations by anti-graft agencies and an internal disciplinary panel.
Principal characters in the allegations include a former Director-General of the agency, Paul Orhii, a former Acting DG, Mrs Yetunde Oni, a one-time Acting DG, Ademola Mogbojuri, and the current DG, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye.
The allegations were brought to the fore by whistle-blower, Mogbojuri, who claimed that he was suspended by Adeyeye, and later transferred out of NAFDAC Abuja headquarters, because he was seen as an ‘obstacle’ to corruption in the agency.
Mogbojuri acted as DG for a period of two months – just before Adeyeye resumed as the substantive DG on November 30, 2017 before he was suspended, over an alleged N500m contract scam. After the suspension, he was transferred to the agency’s Training Institute in Kaduna.
Allegations against DG, Adeyeye
Allegations against Adeyeye, which were backed by documents made available to The ICIR, include using a Guaranty Trust Bank account number – 0116036478 – belonging to one Mr Ayeni Odunayo Adeola, to collect her salaries from November 2017 to July 2018. According to Mogbojuri, the act was to conceal the fact that she was being paid as NAFDAC DG for those months, whereas she was yet to resign from her lecturing job in the United States – a development which means that she was collecting salaries in two places simultaneously.
Also, Adeyeye, allegedly, collected salary from 1st to 30th November, 2017, even though she only resumed work in NAFDAC on November 30th, 2017. A development which meant she collected salary for a period she did not work for.
Although the Assumption/Resumption of Duty Certificate filled by Adeyeye was dated November 3, 2017, she actually resumed duty on November 30, 2017.
A reception was held in her honour at NAFDAC headquarters, in Abuja, on November 30, 2017, to mark her resumption to the office. The ICIR sighted a programme of of activities for the reception.
Adeyeye was also accused of age falsification. Her payslip, a copy of which was seen by The ICIR, indicated that she was born on May 29, 1958 but although the petition against her did not state her real age, it noted that the date stated on the payslip was suspicious, as it suggested that she graduated from the university at the age of 18.
Furthermore, the NAFDAC DG was alleged to have purchased vehicles, including a Toyota Prado sports utility vehicle, for herself, in January 2018, without following due process.
A memo marked ‘secret’ which was dated January 2018, and captioned ‘Memorandum to NAFDAC Tender’s Board For Consideration Of Request For Approval To Award Contract For The Purchase Of One (1) Unit Of Vehicle For NAFDAC Operational Office, Lagos’, which was seen by The ICIR, requested the NAFDAC Tenders Board to approve the award of the contract for supply of a Toyota Prado TX 7-5 AT LS in the total sum of N47,222,222.22 in favour of Messrs Elizade Nigeria Limited.
Another memo, signed by Musa M. Bashir, ‘CEO (Transport)’ and dated January 8, 2018, requested the AD (Procurement) to purchase one Toyota Prado and one Toyota Hilux as operational vehicles for the Lagos formation from Messrs Elizade Nigeria Limited.
Adeyeye collected the sum of N560,000 in lieu of accommodation for 28 days. A memo signed by Mrs Osayi Emem, E, said the payment was due to her in line with PSR 130105. However, it was alleged that Adeyeye was not entitled to the payment, as she had already been paid a lump sum for accommodation allowance for political office holders.
The NAFDAC DG dismissed the allegations against her during an interview with The ICIR.
- Odunayo’s account number sent to IPPIS in error
According to her, Odunayo – whose GTB account number she used to receive salaries from November 2017 to July 2018 – was her husband’s PA, and a volunteer manager in an orphan home she has been running in Nigeria.
Adeyeye said she has been sending money from US to Nigeria for the running of the orphan home through Odunayo, and mistakenly sent his account number to IPPIS when she was asked to submit her account details, upon her appointment as NAFDAC DG.
Adeyeye said the issue had already been investigated by the EFCC, following an alleged petition by Mogbojuri.
She said, “He (Mogbojuri) has taken us to EFCC and Mr Ejiofor went with me. That is his practice, to steal documents and take them to the EFCC.
“Odunayo is my husband’s PA. He has been managing our orphan home since 2007, I usually transfer money from US to Nigeria through his account so when they asked for my account number for IPPIS I mistakenly sent my husband PA’s number to them.
“Odunayo was like a son to me. I would trust him with anything so after two or three months he said there is a strange sum of money coming into his account. It was being paid into his account and when we discovered it, we started correcting it. We had to go to GTB and they corrected it but it took a while to correct it. But they (EFCC) said I must have been paying Odunayo for some contract and when they asked me to bring all the contracts I have signed since I came they couldn’t find anything. What EFCC asked me was why did it take long? And they wanted to find out that government wasn’t paying double. I said if government was paying double they should find out. How can government pay double? Did I give two accounts at the same time? This is what Mogbojuri went to EFCC to allege. The thing was corrected and they started paying money into my account.”
Adeyeye resumed at NAFDAC in November 2017 and The ICIR sighted a letter, dated August 30, 2018, and addressed to the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, captioned ‘Correction of bank details of the Director General (NAFDAC)’ which requested authorisation to change Adeyeye’s account details on the IPPIS platform from Odunayo’s account number to her own GTB account.
The ICIR did not ascertain when the correction of Adeyeye’s account details was finally effected on the IPPIS but the August 30, 2018 letter shows that she received her salaries through Odunayo’s bank account for up to eight months after her appointment.
* ‘I returned salary paid to me before resumption’
The NAFDAC DG explained that she was paid salary for the month of November 2017 because, although she resumed work on November 30, 2017, the date on her appointment letter was November 3, 2017, which she said was the date captured on the IPPIS platform.
“In the United States the date that is indicated as the date of appointment is when your salary starts running. November 3 is what is on my appointment letter and it is a tenured appointment,” she said.
Although she stressed that she did not see anything wrong with her being paid salary for November 2017, Adeyeye said she returned the money to the Federal Government’s coffers when the matter became an issue.
“When it was said that I got unearned salary, my husband said return the money and I returned it,” she said, adding that she intends to get the money. “I am still getting the money back,” Adeyeye said.
The ICIR, however, could not confirm Adeyeye’s claim that the money was returned. Evidence of return of the salary, which The ICIR requested in an SMS sent to her, was not provided. The SMS was not replied.
* Alleged discrepancy in age was caused by settings on IPPIS platform
Responding to allegations that she falsified her age upon her appointment as NAFDAC DG, Adeyeye said she had no reasons to falsify her age since she was a political appointee and her Curriculum Vitae, which was submitted to the Federal Government, already had her age, with date of birth.
She said the software settings on the IPPIS platform, which, according to her, was initially designed solely for civil servants whose retirement age is 60 years, was responsible for the disparities in her age.
According to Adeyeye’s explanations, initially the IPPIS could not accept any age above 60, which was the case with political appointees who were not factored into the settings when the payment platform was designed.
So, according to her, to enrol her on the IPPIS, the IPPIS desk officers said they will have to ‘drop her age down’, or lower her age.
*Toyota Prado purchased directly from seller
Adeyeye denied allegations that the purchase of the Toyota Prado did not follow due process.
“We had need for the vehicle, we didn’t buy it through any contract. We bought it from the seller. Nobody got any profit from it. It was taken to tender,” she said.
* NAFDAC top job not ‘compensation’ for husband
Adeyeye also reacted to Mogbojuri’s claims that she allegedly said she was given the NAFDAC top job as a sort of ‘compensation’ for her husband.
The NAFDAC DG’s husband, Senator Olusola Adeyeye, was Chief Whip during the Eighth Senate.
Dismissing insinuation that her husband’s influence got her the job, she insisted that she was the most qualified among several people that applied for the job.
Adeyeye observed that Mogbojuri, who acted as NAFDAC DG in acting capacity for two months before she came, was scheming to become the substantive Director-General of the agency. She noted that Mogbojuri, being an accountant, was not qualified to head NAFDAC.
“It is an insult for a Director of Finance and Accounts (Mogbojuri) to be managing a food and drug administration agency. I resigned in May and I had a virtual company I turned into an on-site company and rented an office. I put my CV on my business website and it was the CV that kept everybody quiet when I was announced as the DG. I was the best qualified and my CV shows it,” she said.
The ‘N500m contract scam’ allegation against Mogbojuri
Although Mogbojuri allegedly initiated investigations by anti-corruption agencies into the alleged fraudulent practices in NAFDAC, The ICIR also found that he also has allegations hanging on his neck.
Mogbojuri said he is being victimised by Adeyeye because of his ‘anti-corruption’ disposition, and also because she (Adeyeye) wants to cover the up the corrupt acts of some of her predecessors – ex NAFDAC DG, Paul Orhii, and former Acting DG, Yetunde Oni.
But Adeyeye said an investigative panel she set up a week after resuming at NAFDAC discovered that Mogbojuri misappropriated N500m in the two months he served as Acting DG before her appointment.
According to Adeyeye, she had to set up the investigation panel when she met a debt of N3.2bn on resumption in the agency.
Adeyeye said in November 2018, she had to pay an outstanding N3.1bn that was not remitted to the Federal Government from the agency’s revenue.
Noting that she met a ‘mess’ when she resumed, Adeyeye said, ”I set up an investigation panel on December 3rd or 4th, a week after I came. I met N3.2bn debt and when the then Deputy Director of Finance came and I asked him that I want to look at the books before I start anything. That was when he showed me N3.2bn debt. And he said N500m was the amount spent when Mogbojuri was there for two months. I was floored. I have never heard anything like that, in two months? And I said go to accounts department and get vouchers, let’s see how many of these contracts were awarded.”
According to her, out of the N500m spent by Mogbojuri in the two months, she was able to stop contracts worth N144m that have not been financed.
She added, “They (investigation panel) did their investigation within a week and submitted their report on December 10. I told them to give me incontrovertible evidence. Then they brought me evidence. Mogbojuri was using letterheads of companies to award contracts. We decided to get in touch with the companies and the companies wrote a letter saying they didn’t know they were given contacts. That is what Mogbojuri did. He was issuing contracts on their behalf.”
Adeyeye further claimed that, after her appointment, before she eventually resumed, people were calling from NAFDAC “begging me to resume, that Mogbojuri and his boys were looting NAFDAC”.
Following the discovery of the ‘N500m contract scam’, Mogbojuri was suspended by Adeyeye in January 2018. He was recalled in July 2018 and subsequently transferred out of the Abuja headquarters to Kaduna, where he currently heads the NAFDAC Training Institute, Kaduna.
But the allegations against Mogbojuri are still being investigated by an internal disciplinary panel.
Mogbojuri’s defence, and counter-allegations
When The ICIR spoke with Mogbojuri in the evening of Thursday, October 29, he said he appeared before the panel earlier in the day.
He insisted, in a chat with our correspondent, that he was a victim of witch-hunt owing to his opposition to corruption within the agency.
According to him, his removal as Director of Finance and Accounts (DFA) was a punitive measure that was also aimed at paving the way for misappropriation of funds in NAFDAC.
He alleged that the ‘conspiracy’ against him involved a former DG, Paul Orhii, a former Acting DG, Yetunde Oni, and current DG, Adeyeye.
It was Orhii who initially removed Mogbojuri as DFA and moved him to the Planning, Research and Statistics (PRS) department, and later to the Training Institute, Kaduna.
While in Kaduna, Mogbojuri was recalled back to Abuja to serve as the Acting DG after Oni’s retirement. Oni had also acted as DG, for 21 months. When Adeyeye took over from Mogbojuri, he (Mogbojuri) returned to his previous office as DFA. But Adeyeye later moved him back to PRS and later, again to Kaduna, where he is, currently.
”They did it (removal as DFA) because they felt I was a stumbling block. That is what the current DG is also doing, because they told her that I am the only person that can stand and tell you the truth. She has reported me to the EFCC just because they told her I will not allow her to loot,” he claimed.
Insisting that there was no proof to the allegations against him, he added, “All these allegations against me how come she has not proven them? And how come she has not allowed me to defend myself until today when the panel invited me to the conference room? She has set up several investigative panels to probe me but no report has been produced.
”When some Senators called me to say that Adeyeye said I misappropriated N500m in the two months I acted before she came, I thought it was a joke because it did not happen.
“She started investigating me a week after her resumption and even when she travelled after a week and handed over to me, I was not allowed to see the documents. Yetunde Oni acted for 21 months and when I took over some senators told me to probe her, that she has stolen too much.”
Mogbojuri further alleged that most of the contracts involved in the N500m he was accused of misappropriating were awarded by Oni, who he accused Adeyeye of shielding.
He said, “About N200m of the contracts was written by Yetunde Oni, she has left office but was still awarding contracts and Adeyeye was covering her. When Adeyeye was to give me query she removed the N200m and told me to account for N300m and most of the (N300m) were documents I met on the ground.
“I did not pay any contractor. Most of the contracts I approved Adeyeye cancelled them (when she took over) and those that were approved she did not pay for more than a year.”
He said he was asked to “explain certain things” by the panel at Thursday’s sitting.
But, according to him, members of the panel were people that worked with Oni, and part of the alleged conspiracy against him.
“The people that are probing me, before Adeyeye came, awarded contracts of N236m and it was later subtracted from the N500m they said I misappropriated. The investigation is supposed to take three months. Why is it taking 3 years? The place (NAFDAC) is laden with fraud,” he said.
Mogbojuri equally claimed that he was kidnapped, alongside his wife, in the course of the ongoing saga.
Oni, who had since retired, denied Mogbojuri’s allegations when she was contacted by The ICIR. She equally described Oni as a ‘serial petitioner’.
Oni said, “I left NAFDAC three years ago and I don’t know what documents you have but I don’t have any issues with misappropriation of funds. I rose to the highest rank in NAFDAC and being known as Madam Due Process, I can tell you that NAFDAC will never embark on anything that did not pass through due process.
“There has been a lot of discord in NAFDAC lately and that is unfortunate. The man (Mogbojuri) goes about writing petitions and making allegations, when he meets a brick-wall somewhere because there is no substance to the petition he goes to another place to represent the petition.”
She noted that the allegations are distractions that could undermine the agency’s efficiency.
IPPIS platform not responsible for discrepancy in age… Office of Accountant General of the Federation (OAGF)
Meanwhile, the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation has described as false, the claim that the software of the IPPIS platform lowered the age of political appointees who were above 60, in order to enrol them on the payment system.
Adeyeye had explained that the discrepancy in her age was due to a fault in the settings of the platform, but in response to further enquiries by The ICIR, the spokesman of the OAGF, Henshaw Ogubike, said the explanation was ‘fake information’. “This is fake information please,” Ogubike said in an SMS in response to The ICIR’s enquiries.