Visitation panel uncovers massive fraud in UNILAG

A Visitation Panel instituted by President Muhammadu Buhari to the University of Lagos, UNILAG, has uncovered series of financial maleficence in the management of the premier institution.

To curb further incidences of official abuses being carried out by top officials of the school, the panel led by a former Chief of Defence Staff, General Martin Luther Agwai has ordered the management to close all the school’s accounts domicile in various commercial banks.

The report of the panel specifically found the Professor Toyin Ogundipe led management of the university in continuous breach of the directive on Treasury Single Account, TSA, system to carry our series of fraud.

The seven-member panel has since submitted its report submitted to the Federal Government through the Ministry of Education.

Specifically, the panel accused the UNILAG management of poor record keeping of the school’s funds in these financial institutions.

The corrupt practices are being carried out through willful disregard of extant laws regulating expenditure, exceeding approval limits and splitting of contracts.

In the course of its assignment, the panel interrogated principal staff such as the Bursar, the Head of Procurement and others to ascertain their record keeping behavour which was adjudged to be poor.

In its report, the panel states that there was need to stop further acts of financial recklessness and that “Unless with the written permission of the President, all the University of Lagos limited liability companies are not allowed to keep their accounts with commercial banks.

“They are supposed to keep their accounts only with the Central Bank, through the Treasury Single Account, TSA, system that is already in place.

“That any fund not transferred to TSA by the deadline given in the circular as of November 19, 2018, “shall be deemed as hidden and forfeited.

“The panel found the university in continuous breach of this directive and circular by maintaining accounts in commercial banks, without the requisite written permission of the President.

“The council should ensure that the university does not forfeit any of its funds by directing all the university limited liability companies to close all their accounts with commercial banks and embrace TSA, as directed by the Government.

“Council should ensure that competent persons who are verse in University’s administration and financial management be employed to manage the finances of the University.

“There are cases where the principal officers exceed approval limits by approving related and similar expenses that ordinarily should be a single piece of procurement.   

“This could be interpreted as splitting of contracts or services for it to be within the limit of an officer and avoid rules governing big tender, breach of the Procurement and Fiscal Responsibilities Acts.” 

The panel recalled that Wale Babalakin’s council, at its meeting held on Thursday, November 14, 2019, approved the constitution of a sub-committee to review the 2020 budget estimate of the University of Lagos following the findings of the Chairman of Council that the budget estimates submitted to the National Assembly and the one presented to the Finance and General Purpose Committee was at variance and irreconcilable. 

The panel, however, said their explanations were untenable as they were simply trying to justify reasons for contract splitting. 

The Agwai panel, in its report, said: “There are cases where the principal officers exceed approval limits by approving related and similar expenses that ordinarily should be a single piece of procurement.   

“This could be interpreted as splitting of contracts or services for it to be within the limit of an officer and avoid rules governing big tender, breach of the Procurement and Fiscal Responsibilities Acts.” 

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