NECO: Gana pushes back on allegation of siphoning N368.8m
Former Acting Registrar of the National Examinations Council, NECO, Mr. Abubakar Gana, has refuted allegations of siphoning N368, 875,000 brought against him by an online news platform, SaharaReporters.
Gana, in a strong-worded rebuttal issued over the weekend, described the accusation as malicious and baked in half truths, urging the management of SaharaReporters to retract the report in 48 hours or risk court action.
SaharaReporters had on September 25, 2020, ran a publication accusing Gana of misappropriating N368, 875,000 generated during the June/July 2018 registration of SSCE, while he was Acting Registrar of NECO.
But the former NECO boss washed his hands off any wrongdoing, maintaining that he vigorously fought corruption during his two-year stint at the council.
"Ordinarily, I would not have bothered to dignify the half-truths and fabrications contained in the publication with a response, but for the purpose of setting the records straight.
"For the avoidance of doubt, I was appointed as Acting Registrar of NECO on May 10, 2018 while the purported incident occurred on December 18, 2017, at least, five months before my appointment.
"How could I have stolen money before my appointment as Registrar? My administration fought corruption to a standstill by ensuring that monies generated by the council went straight to the Treasury Single Account of the Federal Government," he said.
Gana however placed on record that the infractions were uncovered by NECO "in 2017 under the watchful eyes of Former Registrar, Prof Charles Uwakwe, but nothing was done to bring the perpetrators to book."
He said "When I took over the affairs of the Council in 2018, the misappropriation was officially reported to me, a development that led to the setting up of both Management and Board Committees for investigation.
"Upon our investigations, two officials of the Council were indicted and thereby recommended for dismissal. Not satisfied with the outcome of the investigation, the officials petitioned the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges in the Eight Assembly, which also found them culpable of misappropriation but however pleaded for leniency, a request that was rejected by the Board."
He further spoke on the achievements of his administration, stating that under him, the council carried out major reforms and recorded significant strides.
He said between 2010 and 2017, NECO generated N900 million but in two years, he returned over N2 billion, generated as proceeds from the conduct of examination, to the federation account with outstanding states indebtedness to the Council for 2018 and 2019 growing up to N1,045,047,140.
According to him, his administration also abolished the use of scratch cards to ensure that monies generated go directly to the treasury single account, and also worked to ensure reduction of examination registration fee from N11,350 to 9,850.
"My administration generated N600 million per annum from checking of result, from an initial N30 million. For the first time, the Council audited itself and dismissed over 100 staff with fake certificates.
He alleged that his only sin was to carry out a presidential directive by dismissing the erring staff, who have now made him "a target of their campaign of calumny."
"Also, for the first time, the council purchased 20 Toyota Hilux vehicles from its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) to aid its logistic challenges. It is noteworthy that in my administration, NECO also carried out extensive reforms to improve the integrity of its examination by purchasing 8,000 biometric verification machines, in attempt to eliminate the issue of identity theft," he said.