CORRUPTION: Okowa, SSG, Commissioner Shield School Of Health Provost After Audit Report Indictment Of N200 Million Embezzlement

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Almost one year after the Audit report indicted Mrs. Agnes Olojoba, Provost, Delta State School of Health Technology (DESCOHTECH) , Ofuoma, Ughelli North local government area of the state, of

embezzling over N200 million, governor Ifeanyi Okowa, the Secretary to the State Government, (SSG), Mr. Festus Ovie Agas, and commissioner for Health, Nicholas Azinge have continued to shield the provost.

It would be recalled that in October last year, a monumental fraud running into several hundreds millions of naira rocked the Delta State School of Health Technology (DESCOHTECH) , Ofuoma, the fraud which was uncovered by a probing panel set up by the state government to investigate and audit the finances of the institution from March 2015 till September 2016 however indicted the Provost of the institution, Mrs Agnes Olojoba and the former bursar of the institution, Mr. Sydney Okoroh.

Impeccable sources in the institution who confided in our correspondent revealed that the Provost was running the institution as personal business empire where she amassed wealth to the detriment of the school. It was also learned that the Provost perpetrated all the alleged fraud while she was under acting capacity before her substantive appointment.

Our sources disclosed that the fraud was unraveled following a plot by the Provost to oust out the Governing Council of the College which she perceived to be a stumbling block to her fraudulent and corrupt activities.

“Before now the Provost was acting and during this period herself in connivance with few other persons in the institution looted the treasury to bleeding. Immediately the Governing Council of the College was inaugurated by governor Ifeanyi Okowa, the Provost went to bribe the Commissioner for Health, Mr. Nicholas Azinge with about N2.5million who immediately ratified and appointed her as the substantive Provost even when there are doubts in academic documents.

“For over a year when the Provost was acting without Governing Council in place, it was one frivolous seminar or the other and any seminar she attends, the school of health technology was made to cough out not less than a million naira for her as her seminar allowances and claims. The institution was ran like a private estate and she turned alpha and omega, a sole administrator. During this period, several holes were creates in the school treasury as fraud and corruption was order of the day.” A senior management staff of the institution stated.

Confiding in our correspondent, a source at the state Ministry of Health who pleaded anonymity disclosed that the ministry was aware of the fraudulent antecedents of the Provost and they were shocked when the Commissioner went ahead to pronounced her the substantive Provost when plans were already on to name a more competent person with zero tolerance for corruption.

It was also learnt that two kinsmen of the embattled Provost, the first member of the governing council of the institution, Mr. Chris Oharisi and the Secretary to State Government (SSG), Mr. Festus Agas were also allegedly bribed by the Provost to level an allegation of corruption and fraud against the board and prevail on Governor Okowa to dissolve the governing board so as to continue to amass her wealth.

A government house source familiar with the issue, disclosed that Okowa almost sacked the board when the first member and the SSG met with Okowa and painted the board in black and following that, the governor directed the SSG to set up an investigation panel to probe into the institution finances where a monumental fraud committed by the Provost was uncovered.  “It was a coup against the board but it backfired and it opened a can of worm on how the Provost was amassing wealth, collecting money from the school without following financial procedures.” the source stated.

Meanwhile, an audit report titled “Report On The Special Audit Of The Accounts Of The School Of Health Technology, Ofuoma”, signed by Delta state Auditor-General, C.G. Amudo and obtained by our HardReporters shows that over N200 million was fraudulently misappropriated by the Provost and the school bursar. The panel also discovered that about nine different bank accounts with different banks were been operated by the institution but immediately the panel was set up, Provost hurriedly went to collapse all the accounts into two accounts.

“It was observed that the total sum of N186, 743, 727. 17 was received as income by the school between 14th March, 2015 and 19th July, 2016. It was observed that the total balances in the accounts operated by the school amounted to the sum of N1, 326, 638, 81 as at the 19th of July 2016. It was observed that payments amounting to the total sum of N178, 331, 122. 58 were made without payment vouchers and proper documentations.

“It was observed that the total sum of N644, 471. 42 was expended by the school to liquidate an unnamed loan contract which the school presumably entered into. Neither the loan contract approval nor the payment voucher was produced for audit scrutiny to ascertain the size and terms of the loan. The Provost is required to produce the authority for the continuous payment of special incentives to principal officers and severance allowance to principal officers of the school who had completed their tenure of engagement.

“It was observed that the total sum of N6, 350, 654. 00 was paid to one the former bursar, Mr. Sydney Okoroh as severance allowance through a business enterprise called Bliss and Bloom. There may be some other officers who may have benefited from such unauthorised payments but have not been detected by the current audit exercise because of unproduced payment vouchers.” the audit report said.

In its recommendations among other things, the panel directed the Provost and the former Bursar to state the full amount of loan contract the school entered into, produce the list of the beneficiaries of allowances , produce all payment vouchers or recover all monies paid without appropriate vouchers and documentation.

Independent investigation by our correspondent revealed that, the recommendations of the panels set up have been swept under the carpet following the shielding of the Provost by governor Okowa, Agas and Azinge, a situation, which some lecturers and other senior staff of the institution have described as aiding, abating and promotion of corruption by the state government.

As at the time of this report, when our correspondent contacted, the Provost, Delta State School of Health Technology (DESCOHTECH) , Ofuoma-Ughelli, Mrs Agnes Olojoba, she did not respond to our calls and messages.

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