The former acting registrar of National Examinations Council (NECO), Abubakar Gana, has said that his fight against corruption at the examination body was unprecedented and urged the online media which had accused him of corruption to retract the story within 48 hours or face legal action.
A statement he personally signed, and made available to Blueprint Sunday, said infractions at the Council were discovered before his appointment as acting registrar of NECO.
“My attention has been drawn to a malicious report on SaharaReporters of September 25, 2020, in which the online platform alleged that I siphoned N368, 875 million generated during the June/July 2018 registration of SSCE while I was Acting Registrar of the National Examinations Council (NECO).
“Ordinarily, I would not have bothered to dignify the half-truths and fabrications contained in the publication with a response, but for the purpose of setting the records straight,” Gana said.
He said to clear the malicious reportage, he was appointed as Acting Registrar of NECO on May 10, 2018, while the corruption he was accused of happened on December 18, 2017, at least, five months before his appointment.
“It must, however, be put on record that the infractions were uncovered by the Council in 2017 under the watchful eyes of former registrar, Professor Charles Uwakwe, but nothing was done to bring the perpetrators to book.
“When I took over the affairs of the Council in 2018, the misappropriation was officially reported to me, a development that led to the setting up of both Management and Board Committees for investigation.
“Upon our investigations, two officials of the Council were indicted and thereby recommended for dismissal.
“Not satisfied with the outcome of the investigation, the officials petitioned the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges in the Eight Assembly, which also found them culpable of misappropriation but however pleaded for leniency, a request that was rejected by the Board.”
How could I have stolen money before my appointment as registrar? Gana asked.
He maintained that his administration fought corruption to a standstill by ensuring that monies generated by the council went straight to the Treasury Single Account of the federal government.
“Under my administration as Acting Registrar of NECO, the Council carried out major reforms and recorded significant strides.
“Between 2010 and 2017, NECO generated N900 million but in two years, we returned over N2 billion, generated as proceeds from the conduct of examination, to the federation account with outstanding states indebtedness to the Council for 2018 and 2019 growing up to N1,045,047,140.00 billion.”
The former acting registrar further said the council also abolished the use of scratch cards to ensure that monies generated went directly to the treasury single account and also worked to ensure the reduction of examination registration fee from N11,350 to 9,850.
“My administration generated N600 million per annum from checking of result, from an initial N30 million. For the first time, the Council audited itself and dismissed over 100 staff with fake certificates.”
Gana stressed that the only sin he committed was to carry out a presidential directive by dismissing corrupt staff who had now made me a target of their campaign of calumny.
“Also, for the first time, the council purchased 20 Toyota Hilux vehicles from its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to aid its logistic challenges.
“It is noteworthy that in my administration, NECO also carried out extensive reforms to improve the integrity of its examination by purchasing 8,000 biometric verification machines, in attempt to eliminate the issue of identity theft.
“From these, and many more achievements recorded during my two-year stint in office, the barrage of allegations targeted at me by the online media and its ilk, is a case of corruption fighting back.
Gana registered his disappointment that the media outfit had relegated its duty of balanced and unbiased reportage of informing members of the public and resorted to cheap blackmail and distortion of facts, and therefore, directed the management of the said media to retract the publication cited above and tender an unreserved apology to him in not less than two national dailies, within 48 hours, otherwise he would seek redress in the court of justice.
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