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Transport Minister orders probe of stewardship of MAN, Oron Rector over fraud allegations

The Minister of Transport, Mr Rotimi
Amaechi has ordered a detailed audit into the financial activities of the Maritime
Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron, as being managed by the Rector of the academy,
Mr Joshua Okpo.

order followed the allegation of large scale fraud leveled against the Rector,
which could cost him his job.

Okpo has stirred the honest nest when he  consistently accused the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency( NIMASA) of
starving the school of funds through the agency’s alleged flagrant
refusal to release the statutory five per cent subvention funds to the Academy.

 It was gathered that the Rector also
told the Minister, who was newly appointed , of NIMASA’s recalcitrant attitude
towards the release of the statutory funds, an action he said continued to
frustrate the infrastructural development of the institution.

The Minister was said to have summoned the
management of NIMASA to his office and asked why it was sitting on the
subvention of MAN, Oron.

However, the bubble burst when the
Minister was told by the Acting Director-General of NIMASA, Haruna Jauro that
the agency had remitted over N18 billion to the Academy since 2009.

At the inquiry of the Minister, Okpo said
he only took over in 2011 to which NIMASA declared that a sum of N13billion was
remitted to the institution since the Rector took over.

Alarmed by the quantum of the funds, the
Minister was said to have become livid with Okpo, whom he said had told him
‘lies’ about the true situation of the disbursement.

 When asked to explain what he had
done with that huge sum against the backdrop of lack of physical
infrastructural development of the institution, Okpo was said to have given
inconsistent and incoherent answer.

‘’I could have sacked you and your Finance
Director straight away’’, the Minister was said to have threatened.

He was however said to have ordered
immediate audit of all the amounts said to have been remitted to the
institution since 2009.

In addition, Amaechi has decided, along-
side  NIMASA management staff and relevant ministry officials, to
commence on the –spot- assessment of the facilities at the Academy in a bid to
ascertain to what use the enormous amount received by the Rector was put.

‘’We could have gone last week Tuesday but
for the trip the chief executive of the agency and the Minister made to London
to attend IMO meeting. When they come back this week, we shall carry out the
Minister’s directive’’ a source declared.

It was also learnt that the Minister asked
for the model of a similar institution in Egypt to compare with what is on
ground in MAN, Oron.

‘’Clearly, Okpo is in trouble and he may
be the first victim of the axe-wielding Minister’’, a source in the Ministry of
Transport said.

It was also learnt that Mr Okpo gave a
commercial bank account details to receive the one billion Naira last quarter
subvention contrary to the spirit of Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy.

‘’Just like all the government agencies,
MAN, Oron has its TSA number yet the Rector decided to use unauthorized bank
account details to receive last quarter subvention. 

This was what was
responsible for the delay in the release of the last quarter remittance which
we have now released after he provided the necessary and legally recognized
bank details’’, another source disclosed. 
Okpo was also accused of spending over N10
million to organize Christmas jamboree last year immediately NIMASA released
over N700m to the Academy last year as part of the agency’s statutory quarterly
allocation to the academy.

Aside this, sources from the Academy also
revealed that the Rector was always on a spending spree whenever the
institution got money from NIMASA.

The source revealed that the Academy’s
Rector also favour some contractors when it came to payment.

“When he has finished the money from
NIMASA, he will start running to NIMASA for allocation even the short courses
that the Academy is expected to make money from, nobody is asking them what
they are doing with the money.

“He equally established centres in Calabar
and Port Harcourt where so much money is spent to run the centers yet no money
is being made from them. We are wasting government money in this academy”, the
source revealed.

 It was gathered that with this
discovery of indiscriminate spending by the Academy, NIMASA will start an
oversight on MAN, Oron.

“The Senate and House of Representatives
having oversight over  MAN, Oron the way they have over NIMASA but  with
what is coming up now, it appears that obviously NIMASA needs to get it acts
together and oversight MAN Oron to ensure that the money we release to the
institution is judiciously spent’’, a respondent declared.

Effort to get the response of the Rector on
the financial status of the academy proved abortive as calls and text messages
sent to his phone were not replied.

When contacted on the status of the finances
of the academy, the Bursar of the maritime institution, Folorunsho Kayode said
it was only the Rector who could give the financial status.

 “As I am presently, I just finished
the marriage of my younger brother in the village and am tired. Also, am an
employee to the institution and it is only the Rector who can talk on it’’, he

 The Public Relation Officer of the
Academy, Sidi Mpadiok said accusations of financial recklessness against the
Rector did not just start today.

According to him, the Rector had been accused
of series of financial recklessness by people he described as disgruntled

“Well, I can’t answer for that, I can’t
answer for the financial status of the academy. NIMASA and the Rector are the
ones that can say things about the finances of the Academy. “Financial
recklessness is nothing new and this has been addressed. 

“Agitators have nothing
new to say ,most of them are disgruntled and until we get the detail, there is
nothing i can say”, the institution’s image maker declared.

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