Monday, May 6, 2013
Yabatech Rector in multi-million Naira fraud
After amassing several thousands of naira on hotel bills for guests, Kudirat Oladipo, the Rector of Yaba College of Technology, Yabatech, faced a prickly school accountant who required proof the visitors were not Mrs. Oladipo’s private callers, before making payment.
“Please provide documents and /or explanations to establish the nexus between the individuals who incurred the bills and official functions or business of the college,” the official wrote in an internal memo to his boss.
Mrs. Ladipo overruled the demand, and almost effortlessly secured clearance. But her staff say it was a handy opportunity for the Rector, long suspected of cornering school funds to treat her private guests to lavish reception, to dispel the concerns.
In one year, according to documents seen by PREMIUM TIMES and interviews with officials, Mrs. Oladipo spent N15 million in accumulated costs including hotel bills on such controversial guests.
The spending fall amongst a raft of documented financial abuses against the Rector, which have triggered multiple investigations, one by a government panel, and two others by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and theIndependent Corrupt Practices and other related offences commission, ICPC.
Officials at the nation’s premier tertiary institution, who would only speak on anonymity, speak figuratively of the school’s academic excellence and financial probity now residing in the gutters; as Mrs. Ladipo spearheads a regime of desperate financial malfeasance driven by a criminal make-hay-while-the-sun-shines mentality. Weeks of PREMIUM TIMES investigation gives weight to that claim.
A detailed petition sent to the ICPC and the EFCC contains a long list of alleged financial recklessness, utter disregard of extant Civil Service rules, cover-up, nepotism, contract splitting, as well as lobbying to truncate the conversion of the college into a full-fledged university.
Questionable Generator contract
Contrary to federal procurement regulations, in March 2010, Mrs. Oladipo unilaterally approved the purchase of a 650 KVA generator from Cummins Limited for N24 million and, separately awarded another N1.2 million contract for the installation of the generator.
In her dispatch to the College’s Governing Council, the Rector claimed the need for the contract was urgent, requesting she be granted an anticipatory approval. However, documents seen by this website show that the Rector only filed the request long after submitting a letter to Cummins Limited for the supply of the plant.
In hunt for the deal, Mrs. Oladipo also brushed aside the institution’s tender board, which is the approving authority for such procurements. Despite the governing council holding several meetings after March, the purchase of the generator was only formally reported 15 months after the purchase – in July 2011.
The reason for the hasty approach to the contract, with apparent violations of federal procurement regulations, only became clear when Zenith Bank donated an identical 650KVA generator to the college. It turned out the bank purchased the same plant make for N17 million- N7 million less than what the school paid at the instance of the boss.
For Mrs. Oladipo, the power generators do not merely produce electricity; they also bring illicit wealth as shown in other violations. On May 18, 2010, again flouting all known stipulations, and over the head of the tenders board, she approved an outrageous N9.5 million to be paid to Cummins limited (her preferred supplier) for the repair of a 1.5 MVA generator. The generator broke down shortly after the repair and later, stopped working all together.
Two other instances show how college funds were allegedly cornered by the Rector: on May 14, 2010, without recourse to appropriate financial negotiation and going over the head of other principal officers of the college, she leased a generator for N1.8 million; and on July 13, 2012, hired some for N2.5 million.
An obviously aggrieved official, listed as DOW&S (believed to be the Director of Works and Services) on one of the memos reviewed by PREMIUM TIMES, rebuked the transaction.
“I have no document whatsoever to the effect that a generator was leased and the terms. By virtue of my responsibility, I ought to be privileged to the terms and conditions of the lease,” the official said.
One source said the rector often boasts of having the institution’s governing council in her pocket. Once, when challenged about her unrestrained financial recklessness, she retorted saying she did “PR” for members of the governing council. A new governing council has however been appointed for the institution, like other federal polytechnics, by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Mrs. Oladipo said she is a victim of witch-hunt and dismissed the petitions against her as the handiwork of those opposed to her securing a second term in office.
However, she did not respond to specific allegations when approached by PREMIUM TIMES.
The college’s spokesperson, Kunle Adams, after requesting for a week to come up with a “satisfactory response” to the allegations, asked for more time at the expiration of the initial schedule, claiming the Rector was away on official duties. Over two weeks later, he is yet to respond.
But if arguments about tenure could wade off concerns about the Rector’s financial conduct, they appear wanting in the face of far more serious misdeeds.
Mrs. Oladipo loves the good life, and, her associates who fear being named, say she often spends worthy drinking moments relishing her brandy and beer in the company of male companions in luxury hotels in Lagos. After just a year in office, she allegedly incurred and forced the college to pay personal hotel bills in excess of N15 million.
Some of the receipts seen my PREMIUM TIMES show that she kept and hosted personal friends and relatives that she loosely described as “college guests” in posh hotels such as the Lagos Airport hotel and Protea Hotel, Ikeja.
Some of her regular guests are Senator Shola Ben, one Kenneth Gbagi and Professor Adams Adass. But a close look at some of the hotel bills indicates that these may be spurious names due to the obvious irregularities of the signatures of these individuals.
Unexpended travel allowances
Also, the Rector has used local and foreign trips to corner public funds, according to the documents and the school’s staff. Many of such trips are for purported international conferences and seminars she never attends and hardly refunds the money. If she pays, they come after prolonged periods.
On 4 October, 2011, she was given N1.18 million on her request to present a paper at a conference in Bonn, Germany. Mrs. Oladipo never attended the said conference and the money disbursed was never returned, according to documents available to this website.
Again, in July 2012, she requested to attend another conference in United Kingdom, and was paid N2.5 million for the trip. She never attended the conference, nor was the fund refunded.
She collected another N1.1 million for an international conference in Berlin. In keeping with her style, she did not attend the conference and the money was never returned to the coffers of the institution.
In May 2011, she was given N3.9 million to cover the cost of her vacation in New York, USA with her husband. To retire the amount, she presented a bill from Emmanuella Travelling Agency. But instead of the name of her husband, Adebayo Ladipo, as her vacationer, the bill bore a fictitious name, Ladi Ladipo, as that of her husband. She did not travel for the vacation and the money was never returned.
She did not return the N1.8 million she collected for a leadership and management training in Galilee, Israel, which she didn’t attend until 18 months later.
She apparently did not limit this sharp practice to international trips; she also made a killing from local trips.
In June 2010 she drew N450, 000.00 for an official assignment in Abuja and Kaduna. She did not travel as she claimed and the money was never returned to the institution. She even duplicated a claim for travel expenditure to Abuja in another instance.
After collecting money for air tickets, airport taxis, duty tour allowances and running cost allowances for meetings at Federal Ministry of Education, Abuja, she also approved money for a driver, car and fuel for the same trip. The total cost incurred by her for this trip was N484, 000.
An incredulous official wondered if she travelled by air and road at the same time.
A source, who didn’t want to be named, said the Minister of Education, Rukaya Rufia, who is a personal friend of the rector, was making efforts to shield her from the government probe panel.
“The minister is trying to play down on the petition,” the source said. “Due to the interference of the minister a fresh panel has been constituted after the first one was sabotaged.”
Media aide to the minister, Aliyu Othman, did not return several calls made to his mobile phone.
Cover-up of cronies
Mrs. Oladipo is also accused of shielding cronies within the college accused of abuse of office or corruption. Notable is the mismanagement of the college run YCT Consult Limited. She has blatantly refused to investigate the charges of corruption levelled against the manager of YTC Consult, Moruf Adebakin. Indeed, to the chagrin of other staff of the institution, she recommended and made Mr. Adebakin Deputy Rector (Admin).
In another instance, a lecturer, Mr. Agbadaola who was found guilty of stealing the institution’s surveying equipment and recommended for dismissal, was pardoned and mere told to return the stolen equipment.
Also Mr O. V. Atere who was found guilty of defrauding an HND II student was never punished as recommended by the college’s Senior Staff Investigation Committee (SSIC) but instead received a scholarship and leave of absence to study in the United Kingdom.
She is also accused of doing everything to frustrate the elevation of the college into a full-fledged university. Officials of the school said she is bound to lose her position if that happens as she does not meet the minimum requirement to emerge as the Vice-Chancellor of a university.
Folu Olamiti, spokesperson of the ICPC demanded more confirmation that the petition against the rector has been received by the commission. He, however, said the ICPC does not make public statements of cases it is investigating.
Wilson Uwujaren, spokesperson for the EFCC, also asked for more time to confirm if his agency has received the petition against the rector