Entrances leading into the Federal College of Agriculture Ishiagu (FECAI) Ebonyi state were Monday locked by unions in the institution in a peaceful protest over allegations of embezzlement leveled against three staffers of the institution.
The unions under the aegis of the Joint Union Action (JAC) locked the institution’s entrance gates, administrative office, the provost lodge as the protesters numbering over 500 were joined by some interest groups of the host community
The protesters displayed placards with inscriptions: “stooges have hijacked the provost’s duties”, “enough of corruption in FECAI”, “the provost and his cohorts must go”.
Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Polytechnics (ASUP) FECAI branch Mr Bamidele Adekunle, said the leadership of the Provost, Dr Wilfred Nwangwu has been hijacked by three ‘cohorts.
“They take management decisions, run the institution’s affairs embezzling funds notably the N13million released by the Federal Government (FG) for sustainable agricultural programme to cushion the effects of COVID-19 lockdown,” he said.
He said that the situation had gone out of the provost’s hands as the unions have petitioned the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, the Agricultural Research Council of Nigeria over the activities of the staff who are on the junior cadre.
On his part, the Senior Staff Association Chairman in the institution, Mr Chukwudi Ezebuiro, said such actions rubbishes the legacies of the past heads of the institution especially those of Nwangwu’s predecessor, Prof. Justina Mgbada.
“Relevant rules and regulations were strictly obeyed during Mgbada’s tenure in Nwangwu’s reign, inefficiency, corruption among others are the order of the day,” he said.
He noted that the unions have petitioned the police, Department of State Security (DSS) in addition to petitioning the relevant regulatory agencies while efforts are being made to also petitioned anti-graft agencies.
The Chairman of the Academic Staff Union of Research Institutes in the school, Mr Ahamefula Nkemdirim, said that institution’s gates will remain shut even if schools are re-opened after the COVID-19 until a substantive provost or capable acting provost is appointed.
“These individuals re-posted the Director of FECAI ventures, our main source of internally generated revenue for refusing to connive with them to embezzle more funds of the institutions,” he said.
Reacting, the institution’s Provost, Dr Wilfred Nwangwu, initially said in a telephone interview that he will not comment because the Executive Secretary of ARCN directed him not to speak to the press.
However, the provost who later changed his mind, said the allegation of the staff overbearing attitude was ‘partially true’ as they always ignored his directives.
“They always did what they like as I directed the institution’s registrar to re-post them but he instead re-posted those who are actually working”.
He said that the solution to the problem will be the re-posting of the three staff for peace to reign .