20th November, 2013
Nnamdi Felix / Abuja
Accusations and counter claims over an alleged missing multi million Naira clinical equipment procured some years ago for the furnishing of a yet to be constructed Veterinary clinic is rocking the Veterinary. Council of Nigeria, VCN.
A self acclaimed anti corruption crusader, Mr. Emmanuel Ebirim, who blew the lid on a nominal roll scam of over One Hundred Million Naira involving former Registrar and Director of Finance and Accounts at the Council in 2010, had alleged that the Veterinary Council of Nigeria some years back inserted the procurement of clinical equipment in its budget, for use in a yet to be constructed veterinary clinic but claims that years after the equipment were procured, no one seems to know where they had been taken to.
At a media briefing at the premises of the Federal High Court in Abuja on Wednesday, Mr. Ebirim alleged that he has it on good authority that the Veterinary Council of Nigeria had distributed the clinical equipment to some undisclosed tertiary institutions where Veterinary Sciences are taught at Masters Degree level.
He questioned the propriety of appropriating millions of Naira for the procurement of clinical equipment where the clinic itself is yet to be constructed and pointed out that the Veterinary Council of Nigeria erred in giving away equipment whose procurement was appropriated for in the nation’s budgetary allocations, without the authorization of the National Assembly which passed the appropriation bill.
The self acclaimed anti corruption crusader disclosed that his lawyers, led by Mr. M. A Ofeoshi, had written a letter to the Registrar of the Veterinary Council of Nigeria, on his behalf, requesting for information on capital budget for the Council for the year ending 2010, 2011 and 2012 pursuant to section 5 (a) of the Freedom of Information Act 2011.
He noted that the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke, had warned public officials to comply adequately with the FOI Act and release information sought by Nigerians in relation to government affairs and threatened to institute a legal action against the Veterinary Council boss if he fails to acquiesce to his demands for the release of the requested information. Copies of this letter were distributed to reporters.
The exposure of the multi million Naira nominal roll scam allegedly perpetrated by the former Registrar of the Veterinary Council, Dr. Daniel Garba Maddo and former Director of Finance and Accounts, Dr. Hilary Ibe, both of whom are currently standing trial before an Abuja High Court on allegation of misappropriation and abuse of office, followed a petition authored by the anti corruption crusader to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which led to series of investigation and exposure of ghost workers in the organization who were regularly paid salaries and allowances amounting to about One Hundred Million Naira.
Mr. Ebirim pointed out that as a concerned citizen, he owes the nation a duty to expose corruption wherever it rears its ugly head.
A member of the Veterinary Council who spoke on the condition that his identity remains undisclosed stated that contrary to Mr. Ebirim’s claims, that the clinical equipment were mostly consumables which the Council distributed to its study centers upon the realization that these consumables were nearing their expiry dates.
He added that the Veterinary Council of Nigeria operates study centers in designated higher institutions to which they shared these clinical materials which, according to him, were mostly consumables, so that the money spent in procuring them will not be wasted.
The member indicated that he is not the spokesman to the Council and therefore cannot speak for the Council but noted that as a Council member, that they took the decision to give out the clinical consumables to these study centers to benefit veterinary science students who will eventually become members of the Council for the advancement of veterinary matters in Nigeria.
The Veterinary Council of Nigeria headed by Dr. Markus Avong as presently constituted has no spokesman to who inquiries could be directed to and the Registrar was said not to be on sit as the time of filing this report.
Findings also revealed that the Council may not be disposed to issuing Mr. Ebirim with the documents being requested as a staff at the Veterinary Council stated that the documents in question are part of the documents tendered as exhibits in the ongoing trial of the Council’s former Registrar and Director of Finance and Accounts where the anti corruption crusader, Mr. Ebirim, is also a prosecution witness with access to the documents.