The Legal adviser/Secretary to the Board of Directors of the Centre for Black and African Art and Civilisation, CBAAC, Mrs. AgubuzorAugustinaNkechi, has petitioned the Secretary of the Federal Government, Engr. Babachir David Lawal, Head of Service, DanladiKifasi over her wrongful removal from office as Secretary to the Board of Directors of CBAAC as well as victimization by the Director General of the Centre, Sir Ferdinand Ikechukwu.
Nkechi, in her petition dated September 4, 2015, is asking for the reversal of the decision which she said was illegal. According to her appointment was confirmed by the Board, and only the Board could remove or suspend her.
In the said petition, Agubuzor asserts that her travails began a few days after her meeting with her boss to discuss extensively “some important issues which affect the Centre’s progress.”
After the meeting, Agubuzor was issued three queries at a stretch dated 17th August, 2015, 18th August 2015, and 27th August 2015, all of which she was served same day for alleged misconduct and to which she responded accordingly.
As if that was not enough, the petitioner was issued another letter dated 26th August, 2015, with reference PP/CBAAC/1/74 signed by Deputy Director (Admin/HRM)/ Mrs. T.T. Ogun, inviting her to appear before a panel of Inquiry the next day for “Great Misconduct” hinged on the earlier three queries. The letter was said to have been served on Agubuzor one hour before the sitting of the panel which later pronounced her “guilty as charged” and which led to her suspension from duty without pay effective 3rd September 2015, “pending further findings.”
The victim, in a chat told Journalist that in the spirit of the ongoing anti-graft war embarked by President Buhari, and in consonance with her position as the Legal Officer/Board Secretary to the establishment, she could not just sit there and watch management of the Centre headed by the DG continue to bask in full blown corrupt practices which have rendered the government agency ineffective, unproductive and not able to meet up with the purpose for which it was set up.
Among some of the issues raised by Nkechi in her petition include the mismanagement of the monthly N8 million subventions to the Centre, illegal borrowing of N1million from the Centre’s Co-operative Society without the approval of the Board. Others are the appointment of his younger brother, Edwin Anikwe, without due process as External Solicitor to the Centre. The said brother was paid a sum of N2.5 million to pursue a case with Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/405/2014, between NICON Insurance Plc, Global Fleet Oil and CBAAC and 49 others.Anikwe who used a pseudo-name NEDMEX Solicitors to collect the professional fee never attended the court sitting for one day until Ruling was given by the Abuja Federal High Court against the Centre. The case concerns the recovery of the sum of N130 million being the Centre’s Pension Fund contributions held over the years by NICON Insurance Plc, wherein NICON sued the Centre and 49 others.
The DG is said to continually act against the administration of the federal government’s Staff Pension Scheme 2014 and the Procurement Act.
According to the petitioner, the DG who is an alumnus of the University of Port Harcourt, UNIPORT, allegedly forced the staff of the Centre to attend a political rally meant to drum up support for former President GoodluckEbele Jonathan during the last electioneering campaigns. The order was issued to staff vide circular reference C/CBAAC/140/IV/661 dated 16th March, 2015. The said circular conveyed a threat of disciplinary action against any member on the staff who intended to vote for APC and other political parties other than PDP. The rally which was held in the name of Presidential Town Hall Meeting took place on Wednesday 18th March, 2015 at 11am at Cinema Hall 1, National Arts Theatre, Iganmu, Lagos.
One Mrs. CalistaNworaObiageli has already been appointed by the DG to replace the petitioner as Secretary to the Board of CBAAC. Obiagaeli is said to be a holder of Bachelor of Arts degree in English Ed, which runs contrary to Civil Service Rule for qualification of candidate appointed into such an office.
The petitioner claims her photograph was given to the Chief Security Officer of the Centre to ensure that she is not allowed into the premises of the establishment, having been sacked for her effrontery to caution the DG and management against the above corrupt practices, even in her capacity as Legal Officer/Board Secretary.
Agubuzor in her petition, with copies to the Secretary to the government of the Federation, SGF, the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA, Head of Service of the federation, and others, is praying President Buhari to wade into the matter in line with his ongoing anti-corruption crusade.
When a call was put through to the CBAAC Direction-General, to comment on the various allegations made against him by the petitioner, he said,
“I know you are calling based on what a woman blackmailer who worked here must have told you. Well I have asked my lawyer to prepare a response to the issue. I am not sure you are aware that going by Civil Service Rule, that woman is not supposed to say all those things she is saying.”
Asked when his response will be ready, he said, “I don’t know, may be in a couple of days, but my lawyer is working on it. I have saved your (phone) number so we shall reach you when we are ready.”