By Bassey Udo
The Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) has said that last Monday’s arrest of the Accountant General of the Federation, Ahmed Idris, over alleged N80 billion fraud vindicates its position about the massive fraud in the scheme his office was made to superintend over.
On Monday, the spokesperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Wilson Uwujaren in a statement announced the arrest of the AGF in connection with his alleged diversion of funds and money laundering activities valued at over N80 billion.
Uwujaren said the anti-graft agency’s verified intelligence revealed Idris diverted the funds into bogus consultancies and other illegal activities using proxies, family members and close associates in Kano and Abuja.
On Wednesday, President Muhammadu Buhari approved the decision of the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, to order Idris to proceed on indefinite suspension from office to allow for unfettered investigation into the weighty allegations against him.
But in its reaction on Wednesday, the ASUU described Idris’s arrest as a vindication of its opinion over the years that the Integrated Payroll and Personnel Information System (IPPIS) by managed by the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation and deployed for the payment of federal workers’ salaries was a fraud.
ASUU President, Emmanuel Osodeke, reiterated the position of his union that the Federal Government should discard the IPPIS in the payment of the university lecturers, as Idris’s arrest has proved that the system was fraudulent.
ASUU and the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation have been a running battle for years, as the lecturers have been criticising the system as not serving their interests.
One of the issues underlying the protracted nationwide strike and industrial action by ASUU members has been the demand for the Federal Government to scrap the IPPIS.
In his reaction, Osodeke urged the EFCC to expedite its investigations of the allegations against Idris, to ensure his arraignment in court to defend himself.
He warned against any attempt to cover up the case, saying “corrupt people deserve punishment in line with the present administration’s vision.”
“We (ASUU) have said it over and over again that IPPIS is a fraud. We have also said that the Office of the Accountant-General is a centre for fraud, and that they are just using the IPPIS to relocate all the fraud activities to one centre, which is the Accountant-General Office. We have been vindicated,” the ASUU president said.
Under IPPIS, he said many ASUU members have not been paid for between 8 and 13 months, despite assurances bh the government that the system was being used to control corruption in the system.