The Nigerian government has said it reinstated Suleiman Bogoro as the Executive Secretary of the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETfund) after it found out he was wrongly accused of misappropriating N200 billion at the agency.
President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016 sacked Mr Bogoro over the allegation and appointed Abdullahi Baffa in his place.
The president sacked Mr Baffa Monday morning. The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, who announced the sack, did not give reasons for the president’s decision.
Mr Baffa, who was an aide to Mr Adamu, was named the head of TETFund on August 2, 2016 alongside 14 other heads of parastatals under the Federal Ministry of Education.
The reinstated Mr Bogoro was appointed the Executive Secretary of TETFund by former President Goodluck Jonathan’in 2014.
The Minister of Education, Mr Adamu, in a statement on Monday, said his reinstatement was with immediate effect, “with the same terms and conditions as it were in his previous appointment and as stipulated in the TETFUND staff conditions of service.”
Mr Bogoro was alleged to have misappropriated N200 billion released for special intervention projects to beneficiary institutions. He was accused of ploughing the funds into the failed reelection bid of Mr Jonathan in 2015.
The Senate summoned Mr Bogoro over the allegation, following a motion sponsored by Abdullahi Sabi, the senator representing Niger North.
The News Agency of Nigeria in 2015 reported Mr Sabi saying TETfund under Mr Bogoro’s administration also approved and organised a workshop and pre-retreat in the United States and Kenya in 2014-2015 without recourse to the guidelines of the TETFund Act.
“A whopping sum of about N500 million was budgeted for advertising and media in TETFund’s 2015 budget,” Mr Sabi alleged
The lawmaker said: “The state of infrastructure in tertiary institutions was still shabby, dilapidated and mostly run down” after government spent nearly N1trillion on the institutions between 2011 and 2015.
Following the resolution to probe TETFUND, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, directed the Committee on Tertiary Institutions to report back to the Senate within a month.
The probe was to cover the diversion of the tax collected between 2012 and 2013 and used for projects not recognised in or permitted under the TETFund establishment Act, 2011.
The committee was also to look into the alleged misappropriation of funds from 2011 to 2015.
“I want the Committee to do a thorough job and within a month, report to the Senate so that we get a clearer picture of the situation,” Mr Saraki said.
But nothing more was heard about the investigation until Mr Bogoro was reinstated on Monday.
The reinstatement of Mr Bogoro generated controversy as Nigerians were not informed if he was cleared of the allegations against him.
The education minister was silent on the allegation in the statement announcing Mr Bogoro’s reinstatement on Monday.
However, speaking with PREMIUM TIMES Monday night, the permanent secretary of the ministry, Sunny Echono, said the allegedly misappropriated money was never released.
“So we discovered there is no such money that was misappropriated by him because it was never released in the first place,” he said
“The funds were used for something else, including the first tranche of revitisalisation that ASUU keeps talking about. N200 billion was given to ASUU out of the N1.3 trillion for revitilisation of public universities. Other monies was also given like that for different usage,” he said
The current chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu, was the third Executive Secretary of TETFund.
After Mr Yakubu’s exit, Manya Aliyu was appointed the executive secretary in an acting capacity for 17 months, before Mr Jonathan appointed Mr Bogoro.
TETFund was established (originally as Education Trust Fund (ETF) by the Act No 7 of 1993 as amended by Act No 40 of 1998 (now repealed and replaced with Tertiary Education Trust Fund Act 2011) as an intervention agency to provide supplementary support to all levels of public tertiary institutions.
The main source of income for the Fund is the two per cent education tax paid from the assessable profit of companies registered in Nigeria.
The Federal Inland Revenue Services (FIRS) collects the tax on behalf of the Fund.