…President Buhari Tasked on His Investigation and Prosecution
What could be described as a messy age falsification scandal is currently rocking the once prestigious University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) as its new Vice Chancellor, Prof. Charles Arinzechukwu Igwe has been accused of altering his age to enable him qualify to contest for the position after his predecessor, Prof. Ozumba.
The Civil Liberties Organisation (CLO) and the Coalition for Quality Education Sustainability and Leadership Initiative at its recent National Press Conference in Enugu, the Enugu State capital, fingered Prof. Igwe in an age alteration allegation, urging President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately investigate the circumstances surrounding the emergence of Prof. Igwe as Vice Chancellor of the University despite questions about his true age within 14 days.
Giving the background to the scandal, the Executive Director of the CLO, Comrade Ibuchukwu Ezike, flanked by the National Coordinator of the Coalition, Comrade James Ezema, told newsmen that “Most stakeholders in the last 20 years or more have complained bitterly over the decline in the quality of education at the then very prestigious University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN).
“It was such a pride to gain admission into the institution for higher learning that the undergraduates and graduates of the institution boasted with extreme dignity that “There are two universities in Nigeria: University of Nigeria, Nsukka and others”.
“Today, this air of dignity has continued to wane, with the successive Management Team of the institution over the years being blamed for the anomaly”, the groups observed.
The rights groups then recalled that “Recently, the institution embarked on yet another journey to salvage the institution at the expiration of the tenure of the immediate past management team. Consequently, five-man selection committee was constituted by the Governing Council, to select/elect a new Vice-Chancellor for the tertiary institution.
“Candidates were shortlisted for in a final list of 15 contenders as we watched with kin interest as the selection committee went about its business. However, as expected in such context, highly placed individuals had put pressure on the committee to ensure the emergence of a particular candidate, who was anointed by the out-gone management team led by Prof. Ozumba. And we believed that the committee was made up of eminent personalities who understood the importance of quality education at a time Nigerian universities are struggling to be numbered among the best in the world.
“Nevertheless, at the end, the rest is history as the incumbent Vice-Chancellor Professor Charles Arinzechukwu Igwe was declared the winner of the contest. And in every contest there must be winners and losers”, they observed.
Speaking on what the organisations described as Matters Arising Requiring Immediate Investigation, the not that the fact they presented, they “discovered that either by omission or commission, the Governing Council’s Selection Committee may have failed to take note of certain details regarding the possible age falsification by the newly selected Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) Professor Charles Arinzechukwu Igwe.
“The new Vice-Chancellor, who was Deputy Vice Chancellor (Administration) during the tenure of the immediate past Management Team of the University had submitted his curriculum vitae, claiming that he was born at Awka, Anambra State of Nigeria on August 23, 1958.
“Whereas a statutory declaration of age on oath in 1974 on behalf of Prof. Charles Igwe by his father, Mr. Wilfred Igwe, a native of Awka in Njikoka of the then East Central State of Nigeria noted that Professor Charles Arinzechukwu Igwe was actually born on August 23, 1955 and not 1958 as claimed by the VC in his document. Here attacked are both documents.
“From the foregoing, there is a high possibility that the New Vice Chancellor may have altered his age at one time or the other for the purpose of avoiding earlier retirement.
“We believe that Mr. Wilfred Igwe as his father, like any other father, is in the best position to give the accurate date of birth for his son.
“We all have our date of births as we were rightly informed by our parents or legal records.
“It is then highly disconcerting that the top manager of a tertiary institution like the University of Nigeria, Nsukka would be fingered in a fraudulent act as disreputable as age falsification. If the head compromises or got enmeshed in this high fraud as this, how can he not compromise in every other aspect of the school management?”, they queried.
Calling for probe of the Vice Chancellor, the Governing Council’s VC Selection Committee Members and the Prof. Igwe by President Muhammadu Buhari on in line with his administration’s anti-graft war, the organisations urged the President “to use his good office to immediately activate relevant security agencies that should investigate the circumstances that led to the alteration of the date of birth of Prof. Charles Igwe to determine his possible culpability in the suspected perjury.
“We also urge Mr. President to unravel the circumstances surrounding the disregard of such obvious fraud by the Governing Council’s VC Selection Committee to ascertain if they just looked the other to pave way for the eventual emergence of the Vice Chancellor as he ought to have been disqualified from the race.
“The University of Nigeria was envisioned by the founding fathers to be an institution that will train Nigerians and foreign students both in character and learning.
“We therefore strongly urge President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that this matter was not swept under the carpet but openly investigated and if found culpable, the current Vice-Chancellor and any other possible collaborator should be made to face the full weight of the law to serve as a harsh deterrence to others within the academic and non-academic institutions in the country.
“In the event that no concrete action was taken after 14 days from today, we shall begin the next line of action to compel security agencies to do their job”, the groups warned insisting that the Vice Chancellor would have retired next year if three years were not removed from his real age.