Maritime Academy of Nigeria no longer contractors’ haven- Management
The Management of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, Oron in Akwa ibom, headed by the Rector of the Academy, Commodore Emmanuel Effedua(Rtd.) has made public that it would not allow contractors who have specialized in abandoning projects have a reign in the Academy anymore.
The Rector told newsmen at a briefing weekend in Lagos that several petitions alleging fraud and refusal to pay for contracts executed had been written against him by some faceless people who had connived with some staff, in order to blackmail him to succumb to their threats for money.
Effedua, however, reiterated that the Academy is a place for learning and not a ground for sharing funds meant for the running and maintenance of the Academy.
He noted that since his assumption of office and blocking of leakages, avenues that enable all manner of contractors come for claims for jobs not done; the Academy was able to make savings of about N1.8 billion that was channeled to the purchase of simulators for training the cadets.
The Rector disclosed that a number of contracts which were barely like 15 per cent done, the contractors came for payments and had the support of corrupt staff members who gave false records to indicate that the jobs were up to 90 per cent done.
“The Academy we met was just a contractors’ haven, where most staff were contractors, and the contracts would be awarded but never done.
“However, paperwork on such contracts would have been given evaluation of 90% done for a job that is about 15% done, and payments would have been made. These were some of the findings of the Interim Management Committee.
“We discovered that we had over- bloated cadet enrolment, demoralised manpower, and infrastructure in a mess. There was no maintenance, and there were unnecessary employments, to the extent that we found somebody with Theatre Arts degree on the staff list.
“There were others with Forestry, Town Planning degrees, and other irrelevant disciplines to the Academy. We discovered that the some of the lecturers were inadequate too. There were about 385 non-academic staff members versus about 100 academic staff,” the Rector said.
He added that while he worked with his management team to rebuild the dilapidated structure he met in the Academy, the nautical building was abandoned for over 19 years, after the contract was awarded.
And for refusing to succumb to a corruption bid to give money for contracts not executed, the Rector gets threat messages of character assassination regularly.
Effedua added that: “The hostels were in a bad condition with 18 people in a two-man room. The Library was a make-shift with poor filing and data management system. There was decay of sporting facilities. There were so many abandoned projects, which had been paid for already, as if the contracts were active, but they were not just there. But we discovered that in-house, they had done all their paperwork.
“The Academy had to be audited and the audit report was damning. The debt profile was huge, and there was poor attitude to work. Picketing of the Academy was the most dangerous of all. Then, there was a lot of hostility from the host community.”
When the fictitious contract claims wouldn’t work, a group of faceless blackmailers resorted to working with one Adamu Jubril, a staff of the Academy who worked in the Audit office.
At different times within the period of over three years that the Rector has been in office, the said Jubril, who was eventually dismissed from service in December 2020, in connievance with some persons, wrote petitions that his account was used for money laundering purposes.
A first claim by Jubril was that over N60 million was passed through his account and that he was not compensated, but denied the claim and acknowledged in his response to an official query that the petition was false.
Dealing with the situation, Effedua said: “I called the ICPC Commander, who told me he was in Calabar. I put him on speaker phone so Jubril could hear the conversation. Then, I appealed to the man to come and investigate the claim of money laundry as soon as he returned because the matter was above me.
“I am the one who authorises approvals and I have never authorised one Naira to that individual. So, how come N60 million passed through his account? But, Jubril knelt down and started begging for forgiveness, saying he was sorry.”
And a part of jubril’s response to the query, which was displayed to newsmen read “Please, temper justice with mercy. I can never blackmail you.
The money that passed through my account was for the purpose of accommodation, training, workshop, feeding of officials for official duties.”
A repeat of money laundering claims by Jubril set him for disciplinary action, and with all evidences against him for gross misconduct, he was sacked.
However, the Academy received fresh reports of a petition claiming that Jubril wrote to say N1.4 billion was passed through his account and he w]he was made to withdraw N1.3 billion but was not settled for the ‘job’ of laundering the money.
The Rector wondered such an amount of money that could serve for contract staff salaries, feeding of cadets and other key activities for running of the Academy for months would be moved without being noticed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He noted that any money that could have passed through Jubril’s account must be for official logistics as head of a desk for an official assignment, which he must have retired and so acknowledged in his letter where he also appealed to be forgiven for misconduct.
Effedua, however, promised to maintain the integrity of the Academy on all fronts including not allowing charlatans hold sway with all manner of corruption.
He also made reference to a period when some staff only had their names on the payroll of the Academy but never came to work for very long time. Surprisingly, such people had other friends who signed in for them daily and corruption did not allow them make reports to the authorities.
He said: “Some of them go on prolonged absence and people would help them to sign the time-book, until we had to use the ICT department to check those issues.
“Since we started doing that, it stopped and we discovered those who had been missing for like up to one year and been collecting salary, yet, nobody reported them. We want them to go to court if they are so pained, so we meet in court, where they would explain and prove they had been coming to work.”