EXCLUSIVE: How Nigeria’s Forestry Research Institute Boss, Olusola Returned ‘N17m From Stolen Funds’


The Director-General of the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN), Ibadan, Oyo State, Prof Adepoju Olusola has returned N17 million, part of the over N50 million meant for cooperative societies in the institution which had been diverted in 2020.

 

SaharaReporters had reported how Olusola allegedly embezzled staff deductions (Contributions of over N50 million) to cooperative societies in 2020, as confirmed by IPPIS.



Documents seen by SaharaReporters showed that N17 million was returned on January 23, 2022, by the FIRN boss into one of the cooperative societies’ account number 0012099396 with Stanbic IBTC Bank.

 

An accountant with the institution also confirmed the “partial return of the looted funds”.

“The missing cooperative money belonging to year September/October 2020 is now being refunded in pieces. Part of it was refunded on the 23rd of January 2022, over 17 million naira,” he said.

 

“The fund is over N50 million belonging to three cooperative accounts, three union accounts. Imagine funds missing for over a year, and the accounting officer who is the Director-General does not want to explain where the fund is but resorts to a claim that his reputation is defamed.

 

“Who took the money for over a year? In another development, another fund (deductions from staff) relating to two cooperatives (FRIN Ibadan and Forestry college Jos) three union accounts relating to September 2021 are yet to be remitted till now.

 

“The Chief Accounting Officer (DG) is not ready to take responsibility and name those involved in this fraud of diverting funds or money belonging to staff. The EFCC’s (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) attention should be called upon to investigate deeply the fund allegedly stolen by the Director-General in connection to unremitted funds of cooperatives and unions in all the MDAs (ministries, departments and agencies) as a lot of intimidation is presently going on and innocent staff members of government establishments are victims of dismissal on the present saga.

 

“The DG should tell Nigerians who diverted the fund under his watch. Instead of probity, transparency and accountability on resources in their care, they resorted to intimidation. He and his cohorts stole other deductions in September 2021.”

 

SaharaReporters had exposed how Olusola turned the agency into a personal estate, illegally promoting staff members without regard for public service rules.

 

“The Director-General, Professor Adepoju Olusola has been found doing the following; withholding of staff deductions (Contributions of over N50,000,000) to co-operative society for the month of October 2020, as confirmed by IPPIS.

 

“Illegal removal or deduction from salaries of staff (This is done randomly) with no reason, explanation and move to refund (He does not listen to anyone) for same October 2020.

 

“Flouting of civil service rule in relation to the promotion of staff. In the year 2020, a promotion exercise was conducted, and over 30%-40% of staff were denied promotion even though they passed the examination, but he claimed there was no vacancy.

 

“By January 2021, this year, those who got promoted received their letters and were promoted appropriately. To our amazement, by June 2021, part of those promoted and served their letters were given another promotion. We found out that they are his partners in crime in the institute.

 

“Imagine, someone got promoted to Grade Level 11 in January 2021 and received another promotion in June 2021 to Grade Level 13, in the space of five months.

 

“All efforts to have him explain this move proved abortive as he will never give room for questioning. He’s above the law and people are afraid to challenge him,” a source had said.

 

He also started a campaign of witch-hunt and victimisation of some workers following a story by SaharaReporters exposing how he awarded fraudulent contracts without recourse to procedure and due process.

 

A source had told SaharaReporters that FRIN board members were denied access to all financial and administrative activities of the agency, including records of budgets, expenditures, contracts, appointments, and promotions undertaken under the Director-General.

 

Weeks after the story, it was learnt that Olusola ordered the transfer of those he described as ‘enemies’ from the headquarters of the agency in Ibadan to some Northern and South-Eastern states.

 

Some workers were also issued queries by the Director-General.

 

“He has been using the management to ‘hunt’ (harass) perceived enemies. The aftermath of that publication by SaharaReporters is the victimisation of staff with transfer threats.

“Sadly, the board and management haven’t brought a verifiable report of an objective investigation on the alleged issues.

 

“Also, most of us transferred to other states have not been furnished with any allowances to aid our redeployment. When one of us called their attention to this, they issued him a query.

 

“The labour union has been divided and bought over on this. The DG has turned himself to God in the institute; (he is) always intimidating and threatening staff with his connection and influence in Abuja.

 

“Section 130105 of the public service rule maintains that transportation and resettlement allowance be made available before transfer or posting,” a source had told SaharaReporters.



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