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National Open University of Nigeria, (NOUN) may be scrapped by the Federal Government following discovery by a visitation panel to the institution of a theft of over N5.6 billion over the years.

Frontiersnews gathered that the visitation panel headed by Professor Segun Oke, has recommended that "government should set up a committee to investigate the financial activities of the School", following a discovery that "a lot of money being allocated to the University could not be accounted for; and that the number of banks wherein accounts were open was on the high side".

The panel's report which was made available to Frontiersnews, revealed that beside the ongoing high-level corruption in the university, none of its certificates is recognised within and outside the country.

The panel report also revealed that no single academic programme/course of the school has been accredited by the regulating National University Commission (NUC) since its establishment in 2002.

The corruption ridden NOUN has had Professor Olugbemiro Jegede as pioneer Vice Chancellor while Professor Vincent Ado Tenebe is the current Vice Chancellor. The visitation panel report revealed further that the university has 783 (83.3%) non academic staff and a paltry 157  academic staff (16.7%), totalling 940 workforce while the panel believed that many of the employees are ghost workers, it has called for immediate staff audit.

The Panel also indicted NOUN external auditor (AO&A), a firm of Chartered Accountants for massive fraud, noting that "investigation revealed that the first external auditor, AO&A of the university was also a consultant to NOUN appointed by Prof. Jegede to coordinate the accounting and IT Units and also to institute an accounting system".

The visitors however noted with concern that "AO&A was appointed as the External Auditor who audited and certified the financial statements for which he was instrumental in preparing" adding that "this development negates the provisions of professional ethics and standards of practice required for an independent Auditor".   

According to the panel, "the AO&A statement shows fixed assets worth N812.3 million were reclassified. This figure did not correspond with the figure of N1.2 billion reported in the fixed assets schedule, as expenses incurred without documentary evidence to justify them were all capitalised as fixed assets".

Beside the "unexplained difference of N307.9 million", the panel accused Jegede of stealing N50 and N20 million donation from Niger and Ondo States respectively, as the donations were not reflected in the finances of NOUN, even when there was evidence of Jegede's acknowledgement of the loot.

Frontiersnews learnt further that N483.8, N244.6 and N381.7 million totalling over N1.1 billion appropriated at different times for the production of course materials for students. The panel frowned that despite the huge expenditure, the course materials did not get to the students.

"The finance and general purpose committee of the university "acted ultra-vires and its action denotes a deliberate override of a major control and policy on approval limit", according to the panel, "for awarding contracts to the tune of N62 million above the N20 million approval limit".

The panel also uncovered "the misappropriation of over N248 million which was reported as general advances. But no explanation was offered on what constituted the advances".

Another N1.1 billion including over N500 million and N600 million was spent on overseas/local transport and fuel/lubricants respectively by the management of NOUN, a sum the Panel observed "as outrageous".

Frontiersnews further learnt "that students pay their school fees into 15 bank accounts which are not part of the official bankers of the university. The university does not have direct access to these banks and their bank statements. This practice does not allow the bursary to ascertain how much is paid by students".



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2014 FIFA World Cup FIXTURES (GMT)
Sunday 13 July 2014

 

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