The police in Oyo State, acting on the orders of the Director-General of the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN), Ibadan, Oyo State, Prof Adepoju Olusola, have arrested a worker of the institution, Mr Abaraham Taiwo Joseph over stories published by SaharaReporters.
The police also arraigned Joseph, who was illegally sacked by Olusola for allegedly making false allegations against government officials before a magistrate court sitting in Ibadan, Oyo State.
“Joseph was invited to come for a meeting at the police headquarters on Monday, but on getting there, he was detained and around 6 am on Tuesday, he was arraigned before a magistrate.
“They didn’t even allow him to have access to a lawyer. They seem to have finalized everything with the magistrate but he granted him bail and adjourned the case till June 29,” a court document obtained by SaharaReporters reveals.
According to the court document, Joseph was accused of working with some people at SaharaReporters to cause civil unrest in the institution.
“That you Abraham Taiwo Joseph and others now at large on the 29th June 2021 at about 1400hrs at the Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria, Ibadan in the Ibadan Magisterial District did conspire with others in Sahara Reporters to commit the offence to wit publication of defamatory message and conduct likely to cause the breach of peace intent to damage the reputation of one Professor Adepoju Olusola and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 517 of criminal code cap 38 vol 11 laws of Oyo State of Nigeria 2000,” part of the document read.
SaharaReporters had reported how the Director-General, FRIN, Professor Adepoju Olusola embarked on a witch-hunt and victimisation of some workers of the Institute, following a story that exposed how he awarded fraudulent contracts without recourse to procedure and due process.
A source had told SaharaReporters that FRIN board members were deprived of access to information about all financial and administrative activities of the agency, including records of budgets, expenditures, contracts, appointments, and promotions undertaken under Olusola.
Weeks after the story, it was learnt that Olusola ordered the transfer of workers he described as ‘enemies’ from the headquarters of the agency in Ibadan, Oyo State to some Northern and South-Eastern states.
Not satisfied, he dismissed Joseph without any evidence of wrongdoing.
According to the dismissal letter, which was later published by SaharaReporters, the institute had claimed Joseph was dismissed because of alleged insubordination and his refusal to proceed on redeployment.
“Recall your appearances before the Staff Disciplinary Committee of the Institute in respect of your misdemeanour bordering on false claims against Government Official, refusal to proceed on redeployment and insubordination, all these are considered as serious acts of misconduct going by Chapter 3 Sections 3 and 4 of the Public Service Rule,” the letter had read.
“Consequently, the Governing Board of the Institute, at its meeting held on 27 September 2021, ratified the recommendation of the Committee to wit
“Dismissal from service with effect from 27 September 2021.
“The institute wishes you well in your future endeavors.”
Apart from Joseph, many workers were issued queries by the Director-General, who felt they were responsible for exposing him.
“He has been using the management to hunt 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 into a god in the institute, always intimidating and threatening staff with his connection and influence in Abuja.
“Section 130105 of the public service rule maintains that transportation and resettlement allowances be made available before transfer or posting,” a source had told SaharaReporters.
SaharaReporters had also reported how Olusola illegally promoted 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,” the source had said.