Alleged Forgery: Court Summons FIIRO Staff To Testify In Ex-DG, Igwe’s Case

A file photo of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO).

 

A Lagos State Special Offences Court in Ikeja has summoned an administrative officer attached to the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO), Abati Abidemi to testify in the alleged certificate forgery case of a former acting Director-General of the institute, Chima Igwe.

Justice Sherifat Solebo issued the summons after the prosecuting counsel, Henry Emore told the court that his second witness, Abidemi said he had been warned by “the chairman” not to appear in court as a witness in the matter.

After issuing the summons, the judge said that a warrant of arrest would be issued if Abidemi failed to obey the court order.

The matter was then adjourned to June 14, 15 and 16 for the continuation of trial.

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The former FIIRO Acting DG, Chima Igwe was arraigned in November 2021 by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) for alleged certificate forgery.

He pleaded not guilty.

Before the summons, the first prosecution witness, Vera Esideme concluded her cross-examination from the previous day.

While answering questions from the defendant’s lawyer, Clinton Neon testified that the investigation team did its best.

She said that Igwe submitted an attestation signed by Mansur Moudathirou, a Professor at the Abomey Calabi University in the Benin Republic.

She said during their investigation, they wrote to the university and sent a team to verify the suspect’s claim, adding that Igwe said he sent the attestation to a French translator and it was translated to mean that he had completed his PhD programme.

“…whereas our finding from the responses to the school says that it is neither a certificate nor statement of result,”  the witness said.

“In the course of your investigation, did you investigate all the academic records of the defendants?” the lawyer asked.

The witness replied in the affirmative.

Esideme said they found out that the defendant is a first class graduate from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

He had a Master’s degree at the University of Lagos and proceeded for his PhD in the Benin Republic between 1999 – 2002 “but did not defend the thesis.”

She insisted that the correspondence they received from the University revealed that the defendant did “coursework not research.”

“That attestation is a precursor to the ceremonial public presentation of the thesis?” the defendant’s lawyer asked.

Responding, Esideme said, “No, it is not a prerequisite.”

“Are you aware that before the attestation was issued to the defendant, the defendant had presented and defended his thesis before core academicians namely, Professor Koumaglo, Professor Chalchat, Professor Mansur?” the lawyer asked.

In her response, Esideme said, “he stated that he submitted a thesis and he also defended it before Professor Mansur and two others. He stated this in about four statements on January 20, 27, 29 and 31, 2020,”

“It was in the process of verifying his claims that letters were written to the embassy of Benin Republic in Nigeria where we requested to know if he had completed the PhD programme and if the attestation that he submitted was a statement of the result of his certificate and if he applied to the university requesting for the certificate.

“And the embassy wrote back to the commission that the attestation was neither a statement of result nor a certificate. And he did complete the coursework between 1998 and 2001 but had not defended his thesis. And the thesis is the prerequisite for you to receive a certificate.”

Alleged Certificate Fraud: Former FIIRO Boss Did Not Obtain PhD – Witness

A file photo of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO) building in Lagos.

 

An investigator with the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), Vera Esideme on Tuesday told a Lagos State Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja that a former acting Director-General of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO), Chima Igwe, did not obtain the PhD certificate he presented to the institute.

Igwe was arraigned in November 2021 by the ICPC for alleged certificate forgery and he pleaded not guilty.

The ICPC’s first prosecution witness, Esideme who began her testimony on Monday said one Olusanya, who is now late, was sent to the University where Igwe claimed to have acquired his doctoral degree in the Benin Republic “to enquire about the certificate and our findings revealed that the defendants completed the coursework in 1999-2002 but however he failed to defend his thesis publicly.

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“He did not actually obtain the certificate which he presented to FIIRO in 2002 which he used in getting to a level of a director in FIIRO and which also gave him the privilege of even being an acting DG of FIIRO,” the witness said.

Under cross-examination, the witness also testified that the former FIIRO DG was invited to make some statements regarding the petitions that were submitted against him.

“When Mr Igwe came to the commission, he came in the company of a friend of his, and he volunteered statements under caution and this he did on several occasions,” Esideme said.

“He volunteered statements about six times – in 2019, he came twice and in 2020 he came about four times to volunteer statements.”

The court admitted the statements in evidence as exhibits.

Continuing her testimony, the witness said “during his first statement, he informed the team that he had applied for approval to proceed for a PhD program at the University of Abomey Calabi.

“Afterwards in 2002, he wrote to FIIRO notifying the organisation of completion of (the) programme and attaching an attestation which was written in French and interpreted into English by one Lawrence,” she stated.

The investigator said during the investigation, her team also retrieved an extract “from the body of FIIRO the minutes (of meeting) that was held on April 15, 2019.

“In our findings from the minutes, the body (FIIRO) had given the defendant an ultimatum of 30 days to present his certificate which he had failed to do. In that meeting, they discussed his inability to present his certificate.”

Through his lawyer, Clinton Nwonu, the defendant raised objections to the admissibility of the minutes of the meeting.

Nwonu said that it was not signed by the secretary and the names of the attendees were not listed.

The prosecution lawyer, Henry Emore, however, countered by arguing that One Alhaji signed the meeting as the chairman.

Emore also argued that the document was obtained in the course of the investigations.

Justice Sherifat Solebo upheld the objections. She noted that even though the document was retrieved in the course of the investigation, this did not mean that it should not comply with the provisions of the law. She, therefore, rejected the document.

Further proceedings have been adjourned to Wednesday, February 23.

Certificate Forgery: Prosecution Witness Tenders Three Petitions Against Ex-FIIRO Boss

A file photo of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO).

 

The trial of the former Director-General of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO), Chima Igwe resumed on Monday with the first prosecution witness, Vera Esidene tendering in evidence, three petitions calling for his probe.

The witness, who is an Investigator with the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), tendered the petitions while testifying in the probe of alleged Certificate fraud before a Lagos State Special Offences Court sitting in Ikeja.

While being led in evidence by a member of the ICPC prosecuting team, Kehinde Adetoye, Esidene said that in 2019, the three petitions were written to call for the investigation of his PhD certificate.

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“The first was titled ‘Forged PhD Certificate by Chima Igwe,’ the second was titled ‘Call to Probe the PhD Certificate’ and the third petition was titled ‘Demand for Immediate Probe and Request for the PhD Certificate’,” she said.

The ICPC investigator said that upon receiving the petitions, the commission assigned the case to her team which swung into action immediately.

“Part of our strategy was to write letters to the defendant, to FIIRO, invite some of the staff, we also wrote letters requesting some documents from the staff precisely the defendant’s letter of approval to enable him seek for his PhD.

“We requested for the letter he submitted after he claimed to have completed the program. We also requested for his promotion letter and an extract of the board meeting minutes held at FIIRO,” she said.

During her testimony, Adetoye requested that the three petitions that were written against Igwe be tendered into evidence.

Defence counsel, Victor Opara (SAN) however objected to the submission of the prosecutor on the grounds the copies of three documents (petitions) were not original copies and as a result, fell short of the requirements of Section 86 of the Evidence Act.

“Where the original is not presented, a reason must be given to your lordship. There is no foundation as to where the original is.

“The makers of this document were not brought, and the witness is not the maker. I refer your lordship to Section 83(1)(b) of the Evidence Act. As a result, this document remains ‘documentary hearsay’,” he said.

Responding, the lead prosecutor of the ICPC team, Henry Emore said that the copies of petitions are public documents.

“The documents are from private citizens but were addressed to the Chairman, ICPC. Immediately these documents were received by the ICPC, they became public documents.

“The witness has presented the documents in their proper form and we have met all requirements for certification of the documents under Section 104 of the Evidence Act,” he said.

Justice Sherifat Solebo admitted the petitions into evidence and held that there was no need to bring the authors of the petitions to court for the petitions to be admissible as evidence.

“The petitions are fundamental to this trial. The Certified True Copies of any public document is admissible in evidence not the original.

“There is nothing proscribing the admissibility of these three documents. I hereby admit them as Exhibits A1, A2 and A3,” Solebo said.

The case has been adjourned until Feb. 22 for continuation of trial.

FIIRO Boss Did Not Complete PhD, ICPC Report Reveals

ICPC Partners OAGF, BPP To Prevent Corruption In MDAs

 

The Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) has said that Mr Chima Igwe did not complete his doctorate programme.

Igwe, the acting Director-General of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO), has been engulfed in an alleged certificate scandal recently.

On its part, ICPC cleared the air in its report released on Sunday following an investigation into the claims that the FIIRO boss did not qualify to head the agency.

Workers at the agency had reportedly protested recently against the purported preferential treatment of Igwe, who was said to have gotten several promotions based on an attestation letter indicating he attended the Universite d’Abomey-Calavi, Benin Republic, and obtained a PhD.

He was appointed as the acting Director-General of FIIRO in May 2019, allegedly against the will of the governing board over the controversy surrounding the degree.

ICPC’s report read:

To clear the air and fulfil its pledge to make public its findings on the matter, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) hereby places on public record the outcome of its further investigations.

The Commission re-opened investigations into the status of Mr Igwe’s pursuit of a PhD degree on the 3rd of  December, 2019 upon the  discovery of certain gaps, occasioned by ambiguity in the letters from University D’Abomey Calavi, Republic of Benin, language differences and translation of documents, in the earlier investigation.

In the course of its further investigation, the ambiguity and confusing language translation issue again reared its head when the institution, in its letter to the Nigerian Mission in Benin dated 22nd January 2020, which stated as translated that ‘…Mr. Chima Carthney Igwe has completed his three-year doctoral programme”, yet the same correspondence further stated that Mr Igwe had not publicly defended his doctoral thesis and the institution was giving him a chance, at his request, to re-register and update his research results in the current 2019-2020 academic year.

It stands to reason, therefore, that if the PhD programme was concluded there would have been no need to request re-registration by Mr. Igwe.

Although it was confirmed that Mr. Igwe did the required three years for the programme from 1999 to 2002 and wrote a thesis, the Commission is firmly of the opinion that he cannot be said to have been awarded a Doctor of Philosophy degree since he is yet to complete the process of defence of his thesis in the 18 years after he is said to have finished the course work.

By global standards, the successful defence of a thesis is a compulsory condition for the award of a PhD.

Therefore, in line with its avowed commitment to discharging its duties with professionalism and responsibility the Commission has since communicated its most recent findings and position to the relevant authorities for necessary action.

FIIRO Calls For Transformation Of Nigeria’s Agricultural Sector

 

The Acting Director-General of Federal Institute of Industrial Research Oshodi (FIIRO), Dr. Chima Igwe has called for a transformation of the Agricultural sector in Nigeria.

Igwe stated this in Lagos, adding that the transformation of the sector is needed to serve as an agent of economic recovery and growth.

“In the past few years, Nigeria and Nigerians experienced a sudden and significant drop in economic activities which led to the loss of the purchasing power of our currency, the Naira. Although Nigeria has been able to exit the recession, the strangling effects might still be seen lingering with the possibility of relapse if the nation does not diversify.

“Upgrading and improving the agro-allied production and production processes, mining and other relevant manufacturing sectors, upgrading and improving the existing traditional and local technologies, making new discoveries and innovations through research and products and services development in all sectors of the economy,” Dr. Chima said.

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Similarly, Deputy Comptroller of Customs, Dera Nnadi, who represented the Comptroller-General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd) said Nigerians need to produce what they eat to grow the economy.

But the Commissioner of Agriculture in Lagos, Prince Gbolahan Lawal appealed to Nigerians to key into the Agricultural revolution of the federal government so that more jobs can be created.

FIIRO boss later explained that technology and innovation are veritable tools for national growth and development.

He said, “For national growth and development, national security and economic recovery and diversification, research and development in the fields of science, engineering, technology, and innovations must be at the forefront because it is the foundation of any successful industrial revolution and industrialization.”

Osinbajo To Launch MSME Clinic In Kwara

MSME Clinic, Yemi Osinbajo, KwaraActing President of Nigeria, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, is set to launch a three-day Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) clinic on Thursday, February 23 for viable enterprises in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.

Recall that Acting President Osinbajo commissioned the Aba MSME clinic on January 26.

Aba is the commercial hub of Abia State in southeast Nigeria.

The Chief Operating Officer of the Kwara State MSME Bureau, Mr Segun Soewu, who made the disclosure in a statement on Monday, informed that the event would hold at the Banquet Hall, Ilorin by 10:00AM daily.

He described the clinic as an opportunity for MSME operators in the state to discuss the opportunities and challenges confronting their businesses.

The MSME Bureau boss added that business owners can also make inquiries about policies and regulations regarding their businesses from the Federal agencies that would be present at the programme.

He listed the agencies to include the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS), Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission, Nigeria Export Promotion Council, Nigerian Export-Import Bank and National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC).

Others are Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Industrial Training Fund (ITF), Bank of Agriculture, Bank of Industry, Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), Projects Development Institute, Raw Materials Research and Development Council, and the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure.

Mr Soewu asked intending participants to contact the office of the Chief Operating Officer of the Kwara State MSME Bureau at the Ministry of Commerce and Cooperatives, Gambari Road in Ilorin.