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How the newly appointed Inec Chairman Professor Mahmud Yakubu connived with Dr Moddibo Ahmed to Misappropriate 850Million Naira

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The news just in has confirmed ratification of professor Mahmud Yakubu as substantive chairman of the national electoral body Inec.The news announced by the Governor of Kano state Governor Aminu tambuwal after the council of state meeting confirmed the appointment which was in line with constitutional provisions of the 1999 constitution.

The new Chairman is succeeding the immediate outgoing Chairman Professor Attahiru Jega who supervised the last election cycle before his subsequent retirement.Prior to Professor Yakubu's confirmation today,the post was being occupied in acting capacity by Mrs Aminu Zakari who has now been appointed to be in charge of the whole North West sub-region.

However in a bid to delve into the professional and moral antecedents of the newly appointed Inec Chairman,a disturbing and immoral pattern began to emerge notably his indictment over theft of 850Million naira.

According to Pointblank online newspaper amongst other media outlets who covered the newsyears ago,Professor Yakubu who was former Executive Secretary of Tetiary Trust Fund was accused of pocketing the sum of 850Million Naira meant for the purchase of school desks and chairs for students.

The exegesis of the lengthy court case which was in connection with the active connivance of Dr Modibbo Mohammed his co-accused  and started sometime in 2007 and ran for quite a while was also reported by several news outlets which we have now excavated and replicated on here from Pointblank news portal.

Immediate past Executive Secretaries of Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and Education Tax Fund (ETF), now Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund), Dr. Ahmed Modibbo Mohammed and Prof. Mahmood Yakubu, pocketed N850 million meant to buy chairs and desks for school children, Pointblanknews.com can authoritatively reveal.

Their successors in office have reportedly launched investigations into the whereabouts of the money which a Federal High Court in June 2011 ordered to be paid into an interest yielding account. Their efforts have so far drawn blank.

Upon their “redeployments” on September 3, 2007, Modibbo and Yakubu cashed N850 million approved by their predecessors to mobilise a plastics chair manufacturer, Intermarkets Nigeria Limited. The company was to produce 70,000 units of chairs and tables for school children. having earlier manufactured for UBEC under Phase 1 of the project.

Interestingly, over five years after another N850 million was drawn for Phase 2 of the manufacturing contract, Intermarkets is still waiting to be mobilised.

A whole year after the release of the N850 million, Modibbo placed advertorials in some newspapers “Invitation for Pre-Qualification of Firms to Tender for the Production and Suppy of Plastic Desks and Chairs for Junior Secondary Schools.”

In the Friday, August 22, 2008, editions of THISDAY and Daily Trust newspapers, Modibbo advertised: UBEC “has received financial support from the Education Tax Fund (ETF) and intends to apply the proceeds for the procurement of high-grade, impact resistant co polymer resin desks and chairs for the basic education sub-sector at the states and FCT level in Nigeria.”

In the Wednesday, November 5, 2008 editions of the same newspapers, Modibbo announced that he had pre-qualified some companies. 17 of these belonged to his wife, Aishatu.

Curiously, Modibbo inserted the footnote “These firms have been pre-qualified subject to confirmation of ownership of factory for the production of plastic furniture.”

Observed a UBEC official: “In one breath, Modibbo announced he had pre-qualified some companies. After pre-qualification comes bidding process. Yet he was talking of ‘subject to confirmation of ownership of factory.’ What then was the basis for the pre-qualification?”

Some of the companies Modibbo pre-qualified, which belonged to his wife, are Binani Nig. Ltd., Ojunwa Enterprises, Binwa Nig. Ltd., Al-Malal Nig. Ltd. Golden Crescent Nig. Ltd., Al-Hazen Enterprises and Infinity Telecoms Ltd., among others.

At the time four of the ‘companies,’ including Binwa and Ojunwa had not been registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).

Unfortunately for the former UBEC boss, Intermarkets rushed to a Federal High Court and obtained an order restraining him from re-awarding what the firm considered its contract to his wife’s companies.

On the heels of the restraining order, Pointblanknews gathered, Modibbo and Yakubu resolved to share the N850 million.

Armed with information that Modibbo and Yakubu had shared the money, Intermarkets, in February 2011, approached the court to order UBEC and TETFund pay the contentious N850 million into its account.

Yakoob had earlier entangled himself by deposing to an affidavit that the N850 million was not only safe, but in his custody.

Interestingly, when the matter came up in court, the same Yakubu, who had in an affidavit dated 21 January, 2011, claimed the money was in his custody, put up every possible legal road block to prevent the court granting the contractor’s prayer.

Unknown to the former TETFund boss, his opposition to the contractor’s prayer for the money to be paid into the court’s account, only helped to confirm that he and his UBEC colleague had shared the money.

On July 29, 2011 Justice Abdu Kafarati  granted Intermarkets’ prayers and ordered Yakub’s TETFund and Modibbo’s UBEC to deposit the said N850 million in an interest-yielding account of his court.

Initially, Yakubu pretended to be satisfied with the order.

He asked his lawyers Uwais and Uwais to write the Chief Registrar of the court to prepare to receive the money. In the letter dated February 23, 2012, with reference number WUC/32/FHC/OD/12, his lawyers penned: “We write in respect of the Order of Court Coram Justice Abdu Kafarati on the 29th day of July, 2011, ordering the 1st and 2nd defendants to deposit with the Chief Registrar  of the Federal High Court, to be placed in an interest yielding account, the sum of N850 million.

“We hereby request that the said account be opened and that you furnish us with the account details including, 1. Name of Bank; 2. Account Number, and 3. Sort Code, to enable the Defendants transfer the said amount accordingly.”

In the letter signed by Obinna D. Obinna D. Ogbuagu, TETFUnd added, “We look forward to receiving the required information before the next adjourned date, which is the 19th day of March, 2012.”

Curiously, shortly after writing the court, Yakubu instructed TETFund’s lawyers to file an appeal at the Federal Court of Appeal. The notice of appeal was dated 9th September, 2011.

However Ruling that UBEC and TETFund had nothing to lose if they complied with the preservative order by depositing the N850 million with the Federal High Court,  Justice Hussain Mukthar of the Federal Court of Appeal last October dismissed TETFund’s appeal.

As things stand, Yakoob and Modibbo on September 3, 2012 exhausted their terms and may not be re-appointed.

UBEC’s acting Executive Secretary, Prof. Onocha  Pointblanknews.com gathered, has been appealing to Modibbo to quietly return the N850 million “so that we can move forward.”

However, some UBEC and TETFund officials insist that what Modibbo and Yakubu should be made to refund N1.6 billion which they say is the interest that should have accrued to N850 million over five years.

The commission’s Legal Adviser Ms. Fati Abubakar is reportedly uncomfortable with the legal fees incurred by Modibbo. She has reportedly complained to Onocha on the impropriety of shouldering the legal responsibilities of Modibbo, who no longer is a staff of UBEC.

Part of the legal fees, which run into tens of millions of Naira, accumulated over time from the services of such law firms as Gaul Gate and Anachebe and Anachebe.

Modibbo’s tenure which lapsed in September was strewn with controversies and court cases.

The latest suit against Modibbo was filed on September 14, 2012, by a suspended deputy director, Molkat Mutfwang.

A senior architect, Mutfwang has approached a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja seeking the court to, among other things, determine Modibbo’s eligibility to be re-appointed UBEC boss.

Mutfwang asked the court to determine if Modibbo’s admissions in court to giving his wife UBEC contracts running into billions of Naira did not breach the Procurement Act, Code of Conduct and Penal Code, and that if such didn’t amount criminal breach of trust.

He asked the court to determine “whether in the light of his not being an educationist, the first defendant (Modibbo) should be reappointed as the ES of UBEC having regard to the provisions of section 10 (1) of the UBEC Act, 2004.

“Whether having regard to the brazen abuse of office and acts of oppression perpetrated by the 1st defendant during his first tenure as ES, UBEC; the said defendant should be reappointed for a 2nd tenure in the same capacity”

The architect also asked the court to determine “Whether having regard to the 1st defendants admissions on record  in a court of law that he awarded contracts to his wife (through various companies-registered and unregistered) without disclosing his relationship with her thereby compromising his position as a public officer in violation of the Public Service Regulations.”

Based on the aforementioned, Muftwang sought “an order of injunction restraining the 2nd defendant, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria from extending or renewing the tenure of the 1st defendant as ES, UBEC”

He also sought an injunction “restraining the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th defendants from recommending, effecting or giving effect to any step geared towards renewing the tenure of the 1st defendant as ES, UBEC”

Listed as the 2nd defendant was President Goodluck Jonathan;  Secretary to the Government of the Federation was listed as the 3rd; Attorney General of the Federation was the 4th; Minister of Education, the 5th; while UBEC pulled up the rear as the 6th defendants.

Muftwang also prayed the court for a  declaration “that the 1st defendant (Modibbo) by his actions is not a fit and proper person to be re-appointed as ES, UBEC,” and an “order of mandatory injunction against the AGF to prosecute the 1st defendant for offences  against the Code of Conduct Bureau Act, Procurement Act and Penal Code including corruption, criminal breach of Trust and Perjury.”

Muftwang’s originating summons were supported by a 33-point affidavit.

UBEC sources told Pointblanknews.com that they believed Mutfwang’s suit was triggered by Modibbo’s arrogance during his handover to Prof. Onocha.

During the brief ceremony, sources told Pointblanknews.com, Modibbo had boasted to senior officials that his absence would be short-lived, as the recommendation for his re-appointment would be approved by President Goodluck Jonathan “any minute.”

Sources close to the former UBEC boss offered that Modibbo’s confidence in his re-appointment was buoyed by the N75 million he claimed to have disbursed to top officials of the Ministry of Education for the purpose.

According to UBEC Act (2004), an Executive Secretary can only be appointed by the President on the recommendation of the Minister of Education.

However, UBEC falls under the purview of the Minister of State for Education, Chief Onyeso Wike.

Onocha, who was described as a lily-livered professor, was so traumatized by Modibbo that he still lives in the shadow of his former boss.

So strong was Modibbo’s grip on UBEC that he reportedly walked away with his office key. “It was only last Sunday (November 19) that oga (Modibbo) came to move his personal belongings,” said an official.

During Modibbo’s tenure, Onocha served as deputy Executive Secretary.

Shortly before the former Executive Secretary exhausted his tenure, he appointed the law firm of Anachebe and Anachebe to defend him in a breach of contract suit instituted by a plastic furniture manufacturer Intermarkets Nigeria Limited and their American parent company Intermarkets USA LLC.

On May 9, 2012, Anachebe, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) threw decorum to the dogs and engaged a much junior female lawyer Ms. Regina Okotie-Eboh in a verbal brawl in the premises of the Federal High Court, Abuja.

The SAN and Ms. Okotie-Eboh, to the bewilderment of a crowded court, hurled unprintable names at each other.

Anachebe was to later disclose in a petition that when he called up Ms. Okotie-Eboh’s boss, Rickey Tarfa, also a SAN, to protest her “unruly behaviour,” Tarfa snapped that he (Anachebe) got what he deserved.

The frosty relationship between Anachebe and Tarfa, who is counsel to Intermarkets, has showed little signs of thawing. Both senior lawyers have dragged themselves before the disciplinary committee of the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA).

It is the same Anachebe that the UBEC Legal Adviser has advised should be stopped from further putting up legal fees’ claims from UBEC.

“How do we justify payments for the legal fees for Modibbo, who is now more or less a passer-by?” the UBEC legal adviser reportedly tasked the acting Executive Secretary.

 

 

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