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Who is the Real Crook?

Posted by By Mathias Oko on 2004/08/23 | Views: 908 |

Who is the Real Crook?

Two former lecturers at the University of Uyo want the registrar out for alleged falsification of service records but the registrar insists that his accusers are the real offenders

Two former lecturers at the University of Uyo want the registrar out for alleged falsification of service records but the registrar insists that his accusers are the real offenders

Peter Jerome Efiong, registrar and secretary to council, University of Uyo, is in trouble. He may lose his job and in addition, be compelled to refund to the university authorities all the emoluments he has been earning in the last two and half years if the allegations against him are proved. His problem started from two petitions written against him. One of them was signed by E. P. Akpan, chairman, Academic Staff Union of Universities, ASUU, UniUyo branch. Another was signed by Inih Ebong, a lecturer in the institution. The two were dated July 7 and 12, 2004, respectively and sent to the head of service of the federation, Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, ICPC and Akpan Hogan Ekpo, vice-chancellor of the university, Efiong was accused of circumventing civil service rules by dubious declaration of records of service; over staying his period of service and earning huge emoluments illegally and fraudulently for the said period.

The petitioners claimed that Efiong started work as a teacher in the public service in January 1967, and ought to have retired since January, 2002 when he completed his mandatory 35 years of continuous and unbroken service as stipulated by law. The civil service rules and regulations made pursuant to the pension Act (cap 346 laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 1990) stipulates 35 years of service or 60 years of age as the mandatory period for retirement by any officer who may have served in the employ of government.

The petitioners argued that the period between 1975 and 1978 when Efiong proceeded for further studies before returning to work in 1979, should authomatically merge with his years of service as empowered by law. And that by this calculation, Efiong had exceeded his service period by two and a half years, that is, from 2002 to date. His continued stay in service which the petitioners claimed enjoyed the full support of Ekpo's administration, had deliberately and willfully broken the civil service rules. This violation, they further contended has made nonsense of the much trumpeted sanitisation posture of the Ekpo administration.

The petitioners gave a 14-day ultimatum to the vice-chancellor to sack Efiong and recover from him all the illegal earnings by him or face a legal action.

Newswatch efforts to speak with Ekpo failed as he was said to have travelled to Abuja. Efiong, however, refuted the allegations saying they were unfounded and baseless. He said the allegations emanated from some aggrieved ex-lecturers of the university who felt that he probably may have played a role in the termination of their appointments. Efiong lamented that Ebong and Akpan, the petitioners, were going all out either by hook or crook to make sure that he was indicted for the simple reason that he merely carried out orders of the university authorities by signing their letters of dismissal. He wondered why they should take it personal against him.

He argued that his period of service from 1967 was not in dispute as the appropriate authorities including the university and head of service of the federation were aware of the rules guiding civil service and pensionable service. He noted that only government could interprete what pensionable service meant and cannot be determined through anybody's figment of imagination. He explained that in 1986 he actually wrote to the authorities for a merger of the break in service between 1975 and 1979 because he started with Catholic Mission in 1967 and later got into the county council (which was government owned), but that up till date he was yet to receive any letter merging his service. Hence, he has to remain in service. He argued that the law did not specify "continuous or unbroken" service, but pensionable service.

He insisted that when the matter came up at the panel's meeting, which was made up of educated people ranging from former permanent secretaries at the time he was to be appointed registrar, the panel resolved that there was no continuity as far as his service was not merged or transferred. "My duty was to write to government for merging, which I did. If it failed to do so, it probably may have a reason for not merging my service," Efiong said. And going by this analysis, he claimed that he has only put in 25 years of service as against the 37 years alleged by the petitioners.

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Comments (1)

Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.