Representatives of the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, on Monday, met with workers of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi, Lagos, and called for an end to the protests against the acting Director-General of the institute, Chima Igwe.
Those reported to have been sent from Abuja to the Lagos office of FIIRO to meet with the workers were the directors of human resources and legal in the ministry, the Senior Special Assistant to the Minister of Science and Technology on Technical Matters and the Senior Special Adviser to the Minister of State.
The officials were reported to have said Igwe could not be suspended until the conclusion of investigation into the controversies surrounding his doctorate.
This is just as a group, the Human and Environmental Development Agenda, wrote the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), to call for Igwe’s sacking.
The anti-corruption group also gave the governing board of the institute 14 days to act or face legal action.
Igwe is in the eye of the storm more than 18 years after claiming to have bagged a doctorate from the Universite d’Abomey-Calavi, Benin Republic, without a certificate to show for it.
He had been promoted several times based on the claim, which became contentious after he was appointed the acting director-general in May 2019.
Several ultimatums given to him by the governing board to produce the certificate ended without any result, as the matter also became a subject of investigation by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related Offences Commission.
After the ICPC delayed in releasing the outcome of its investigation, our correspondent visited the university and was informed that Igwe had yet to complete his studies.
The ICPC later cleared Igwe, saying he duly obtained the certificate.
When the school, in another interview, denied giving any government agency such information, the anti-graft agency said it had reopened investigation into the matter.
On Thursday, January 16, 2020, the FIIRO workers staged a protest led by officials of the Senior Staff Association of Universities, Teaching Hospitals, Research Institutes and Associated Institutions.
PUNCH Metro gathered that senior directors from the ministry, however, met with the workers on Monday.
A source at the meeting said the government officials said Igwe would not be suspended.
“The meeting was not conclusive. They said the protests were embarrassing the minister and that we should stop them. From all indications, they are not ready to suspend him (Igwe). They said they could not do so until the conclusion of investigation,” the source said.
The Chairman of SSAUTHRIAI, Togunde Mumeen, who also confirmed the meeting, said the protests would not be halted until the right thing was done.
HEDA, in the petition signed by its Chairman, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju, asked the FIIRO board to sack Igwe.
“We follow up the investigation by the Independent Corrupt Practices and ther related offences Commission; but we are surprised to discover that the ICPC appears to have abandoned the investigation,” Suraju stated.
He demanded that the immediate past DG of the institute, Prof. Gloria Elemo, be reported for disciplinary action for alleged violation of the extant rule “guiding her handing over of power as DG at the expiration of her tenure.”
“The allegations levelled against the acting director-general, Mr Igwe, is such that is within the definition of serious misconduct as defined in the Federal Government Civil Service Rules in Rule 030401, which defines serious misconduct as a specific act of very serious wrongdoing and improper behaviour, which is inimical to the image of the service and which can be investigated and if proved, may lead to dismissal,” he added.