An anti-corruption group has asked the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offenses Commission (ICPC) to prosecute a former Acting Director, Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi, (FIIRO), Chima Igwe, for alleged certificate scandal.
The group, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), in a statement issued on Monday, also urged ICPC to recover from Mr Igwe the salaries and allowances paid to him by the government for the period he held the position without requisite qualification.
A petition dated June 7, 2021 has been sent to the ICPC, HEDA’s chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, said in the statement.
HEDA recalled that ICPC had investigated the certificate scam and the report of the investigation dated January 24, 2020 with reference number ICPC/SDD-TA/FMST-02/2020 was sent to the Minister of Science and Technology, who supervises FIIRO.
“It was upon this finding that Igwe was removed, after several public pressure, as the Acting Director-General of FIIRO but still retained as a staff of the Institute in the capacity of a Chief Research Officer,” HEDA said.
The anti-corruption group said Mr Igwe had with his controversial Ph.D degree, obtained salaries and promotions “with a fake representation and deception at FIIRO, in Lagos State and by so, has contravened the Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Act and Section 105 of the Criminal Code Act.”
“We request the ICPC to prosecute Mr Chima Igwe for presenting an attestation letter in place of a Ph.D Certificate upon which he worked and gained several promotions in the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi, Lagos State and return into the government’s coffer all salaries and allowances paid to Mr. Chima Igwe within the period he worked without having the requisite educational qualification (Ph.D Certificate),” HEDA quoted its petition to ICPC as reading in part.
The statement added that ”HEDA’s lead researchers had unravel the scam following months of the group’s diligent research team investigation of the issue which became a national embarrassment.”
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It said it would head to the court “to ensure justice is done to the society which norms have been violated” if ICPC fails to act.
ICPC’s earlier statement
ICPC in a statement it issued in February 2020 said it had “re-opened investigations into the status of Mr. Igwe’s pursuit of a PhD degree on December 3, 2019.”
The commission said its re-opening of the case followed “the discovery of certain gaps, occasioned by ambiguity in the letters from University D’Abomey Calavi, Republic of Benin, language differences and translation of documents, in the earlier investigation.”
The commission added, “Although it was confirmed that Mr. Igwe did the required three years for the programme from 1999 to 2002 and wrote a thesis, the commission is firmly of the opinion that he cannot be said to have been awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree since he is yet to complete the process of defence of his thesis in the 18 years after he is said to have finished the course work.
“By global standards, the successful defence of a thesis is a compulsory condition for the award of a PhD.”
Efforts to get Mr Igwe to comment on HEDA’s petition were unsuccessful on Monday. He did not return our reporter’s multiple calls or reply text messages sent to his known phone number.