7th March, 2021
By Mustapha Yauri
Prof. Jeffrey Barminas, Director-General (D-G), National Research Institute for Chemical Technology (NARICT) Zaria, has denied allegations of corruption and abuse of office made against him by the Network For Justice, an NGO.
The D-G told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Zaria that the allegations were false and only meant to distract the NARICT management from discharging its duties.
The NGO on Jan. 25, petitioned the Minister of Science and Technology and the Chairman Code of Conduct Bureau, alleging corruption and abuse of office in NARICT.
A copy of the petition, signed by one Auwalu Musa an official of the NGO obtained by NAN, alleged that the D-G was involved in unlawful acts amounting to an abuse of office that contravened public service rules.
The petition also accused the official of corruption and use of ethnic and religious sentiments in running the affairs of the institution.
The NGO alleged that the NARICT boss had applied partiality in the institution’s promotion exercise, non-remittance of internally generated revenue, witch hunting in the transfer of staff and irregularities in contract awards.
According to the petitioners, the actions of the D-G contravenes the provisions of the Fifth Schedule, Part One, Sections One and Nine of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (1999), as amended.
The petitioners appealed to the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology to set up an administrative inquiry into the activities of the NARICT boss, to save the institution from collapse.
However, the DG said the petition was not new, adding that he had received several petitions since his assumption of office in 2017 and some of them by faceless persons.
Barminas said the petition from Network for Justice was similar to previous petitions against him, which were false.
The D-G disclosed that he had responded to the petitions to both the Minister of Science and Technology and the Chairman of NARICT Governing Board in letters with reference numbers NARICT/CON.74/VOL.VII/783 dated Oct. 12, 2018.
“And NARICT/ADM.559/CGB/HRM/1/37 dated May 23, 2019, and NARICT/CON.74/VOL.XII/34 dated Feb. 26, 2021, respectively.”
He explained that when he assumed office in 2017, he met only three functional outstations and had to create additional three outstations to reflect the six geopolitical zones, with the approval of the minister.
“In effecting the transfers, skills and competencies of the staff were considered incongruent with the natural resources of the zone.
“There is also a need for certain specific cadres in the outstations such as researchers, marketers and administrators.
“Dr Musa Mohammed was posted to Amasiri, Ebonyi to drive the utilisation of indigenous Technologies in Salt Project.
“Dr Haruna Musa as a Chemical Engineer, was transferred to Langtan to drive our solid minerals development programmes and Mr Bala Danladi was posted to Kano to handle commercial activities of the institute,’’ he said.
On the allegation of non-remittance of monthly staff rent to TSA, Barminas said: “the claim is a fabrication of lies as the petitioners fail to attach any evidence to support the allegation.”
He said that rent was considered “as Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) and N7, 529.732.50 million being the remittances from staff salaries from 2017 to 2020 had been paid to Treasury Single Account (TSA) as required by law.”
On alleged diversion of budgetary funds, the D-G said the petition did not explain how the budget was diverted looking at the period he took over in 2017.
“There is a huge difference between how budget funds were utilised before the period of my administration. I had to set up a Transition Committee on the assumption of duty in the absence of handing over notes.
“The investigations report from the Anti- Corruption and Transparency Unit (ACTU) gives a clear picture of the financial and budgetary infractions by my predecessors in office,” he said.
According to him, the alleged financial infraction as indicated against ACTU/NARICT included misapplication/misappropriation of budget funds, non-implementation of approved projects with cash backing and movement of the institute’s property without documentation.
Meanwhile, the federal ministry of science and technology said the petition was receiving attention.
The ministry in a response to the NGO, issued by M .E. J. Bassey, Director, Department of Chemical Technology, on behalf of the minister, and obtained by the NAN, read in part:
“I am directed to acknowledge the receipt of your petition dated January 25 on the above subject matter.
“Kindly note that your petition is receiving the needed attention,” Bassey said.