Committee Indicts Benue TSB’s Ex-Secretary, Asks Him to Refund N195M

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  • I’m Ready To defend Myself, that report is false and mischievous, Uji Says

By Amos Aar, Makurdi

A probe committee set up by the Benue State government to investigate the activities of the state’s Teaching Service Board (TSB) has indicted the immediate past Executive Secretary of the Board, Wilfred Terlumun Uji, an associate professor, and recommended that he should refund the sum of N195 million that he allegedly embezzled between 2017-2020

Submitting the report of the committee to Governor Samuel Ortom on Tuesday in the New Banquet Hall of Government House, Makurdi; chairman of the committee, Dr. Sarwuan Tarnongu, explained that the amount alleged to have been embezzled by Uji covered illegal withdrawal of funds from the treasury of the board deposited in three commercial banks and from the cooperative society of the board in the period between 2017 and April of 2020.

Tarnongu, who is also the Special Adviser to the governor on Basic Education, further disclosed that the committee found a series of statutory and non-statutory deductions from secondary schools across the state during Uji’s tenure. He said in the course of the committee’s work, the former Executive Secretary was invited three times to appear before it to defend himself but that he declined.

Tarnongo said: “As the committee began it’s sitting, we sent invitations to the former Executive Secretary three times but he refused to honour the invitations.

“In the course of our work, we discovered that under the former Executive Secretary the Board operated three bank accounts contrary to the provisions of the Treasury Single Account. He was in the practice of asking the accountant of the board to withdraw cash and hand over to him.

“The committee discovered the sum of N195, 760, 862.09 being money mismanaged from the cooperative society of the board and other deductions during the period under review.”

Responding to the Tarnongo-led committee’s report, Governor Samuel Ortom said present or former appointees of government are not helping government or themselves if they refused to honour invitations by a probe committee to clarify issues, saying silence means consent and so whatever report the committee comes up with will be accepted as true.

“We do not want to arbitrarily accuse people of wrongdoing; that is why we set up committees because we must ensure due process, equity, fairness and justice. I believe in the rule of law so I see no reason why an appointee will do otherwise,” Ortom said.

The governor handed the report to the Commissioner for Education, Prof. Dennis Ityavyar, and directed him to present a memo to the State Executive Council for necessary action.

In his reaction to the report, the former Secretary of TBS, Associate Prof. Uji, told National Record that he is ready to defend himself and described the report as false, malicious and a calculated attempt by the state government to dent his integrity and humiliate him.

He said the committee was not properly constituted along the principles of fairness, equity and justice, saying almost all the members were friends of the Honourable Commissioner for Education, Prof. Dennis Ityavyar, and were contracted to do a hatchet job to justify that nothing meaningful was achieved under his watch.

He debunked the committee’s report which alleged that 700 million naira was realized at the Board during his tenure and recommended that he should refund over 195 million naira allegedly mismanaged. He claimed that in his almost four-year tenure, the total accrual to the Board was about 140 million naira and challenged the committee to prove its allegations with evidence.

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