Panic has gripped the University of Benin community as a Visitation Panels set up to investigate allegations of fraud in 11 federal universities and polytechnics, commences sitting.
This is as the panel has demanded for the multiple bank accounts details allegedly being operated by the authorities of the University of Benin in defiance of the Treasury Single Account (TSA), as directed by the federal government.
This, it was learnt, has made authorities of the institution to now run from pillar to post in attempt to get a soft landing.
It was reliably gathered that the Panel’s request for the detail of the bank accounts is based on the many terms of reference and the allusion to their existence by a petitioner, who is also a member of staff of the institution.
Postgraduate students of the school recently accused the institution’s management of operating an illegal bank account titled, “UNIBEN Staff Retreat/External Assessors.”
They alleged that they were being forced to pay the sum of between N60,000 and N90,000 as Masters’ and PhD students respectively, into different accounts all in the name of the university paying for External Examiners for project/oral defence.
The petitioner had in the letter sent to the EFCC, ICPC and the Federal Ministry of Education, Abuja, alleged that the accounts violated the presidential directive on the TSA policy.
The petitioner alleged that, “there is a lot of money in these illegal accounts and there may be need for an external forensic audit of the institution’s account in order to ensure financial prudence and accountability.
“This is because much of the subventions for the university between 2015 and 2017 from the Federal Government and the additional Internally Generated Revenue (IGR), running into billions of naira, from various business ventures and activities are domiciled in these secret accounts.”
The Petitioner also insisted that the accounting process or procedure of the University of Benin must also be audited, as, “the Bursary departments still rely on analogue mode of operation, with its attendant challenges and risks.
“When the Federal Government said you must have single account, you cannot have various accounts. If you have various accounts what are they for? It amounts to violation of the relevant policy designed to promote transparency in the running of public organizations in Nigeria,” the petitioner said.
Recall that the Minister of Education Alhaji Adamu Adamu, recently inaugurated the 11 visitation panels in Abuja and listed affected institutions as Federal University Dutsin-Ma, Katsina State, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike in Abia State and University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
Others are the Federal University Kashere, Gombe State, University of Abuja, FCT and University of Nigeria, Enugu State.
Others include the Federal Polytechnic, Auchi, Edo State, University of Benin, Federal Polytechnic Oko, Anambra state, Yaba College of Technology, Lagos State and University of Calabar, Cross River State.