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Controversy over appointment of Ohodo Federal Polytechnic rector

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Institute of Management and Technology (IMT) Enugu

Controversy is brewing over the appointment of a former rector of Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu, Prof Edwin Onyeneje as head of newly established Ohodo Federal Polytechnic, Igbo Etiti Local Government Council in the state.

Already, some persons, under the aegis of concerned stakeholders from Enugu north senatorial zone where the school is sited, had petitioned relevant stakeholders in the education sector, asking for the replacement of Onyeneje as the polytechnic’s pioneer rector, saying he was not fit for the job.

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In the petition signed by Winifred Asogwa, Steve Udegbunam, Mrs. Veronica Ogbodo, Chukwuma Ugwuagbo and Onyemaechi Nnaji, they alleged that Onyeneje was dismissed from IMT over allegation of maladministration by a judicial commission of inquiry set up by the Enugu State government and is being prosecuted by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

But some concerned stakeholders at IMT dismissed the allegation, saying there was no iota of truth in the petition. They maintained that Onyeneje ran a successful five-year tenure at the institution.

Led by Mr Basil Offoh, a chief lecturer at IMT, the pro-Onyeneje group wondered why the petition came 11 years after he left office, alleging that the opposition was because the former rector is not from Enugu north senatorial zone where the school is sited.

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They added that since leaving IMT, Onyeneje had served in one of the prestigious universities in the southeast as Deputy Vice-Chancellor and has held other positions of honour in the school.

In their counter-petition to the minister of education, where they urged him to sustain the appointment, the stakeholders reminded that an Enugu State High Court, on February 8, 2013, had ordered that “no inquisition shall be conducted on the terms of reference of the judicial panel of inquiry constituted by the state government until it publishes a white paper on recommendations of the said panel following the conclusion of its work.”

In the petition signed by their lawyer, Benedict Oguine, the group added that to date, there had not been any documentary evidence in public view to suggest that the panel had concluded its assignment and the state government published a white paper on the administration of Onyeneje at IMT.

“We do not, therefore, know the source of the purported findings of the judicial panel as assembled by the petitioners and swiftly targeted at Prof Onyeneje, because he was appointed pioneer rector of Ohodo Federal Polytechnic.

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“Assuming without conceding that these purported findings of the judicial panel are valid, they are subject to appeal at a court of competent jurisdiction and this constitutional right of Prof. Onyeneje can only be exercised when the government publishes white paper as contemplated.

We have not at any point concealed our desire to have a white paper on the recommendations of a judicial panel if any, published to enable the public to appreciate the political placenta that birthed the said judicial panel”, they stated.

While alleging that the petition against Onyeneje was “politically motivated” and being driven by ethnic bias, the group stated that some known staff of IMT from Enugu north senatorial zone had been indicted of fraud but continued to function in their various capacities.

Rather than vilify Onyeneje, they urged the petitioners to praise him for raising the bar at the IMT, stressing that the cause of the over-enrollment that led to the withdrawal of accreditation of the school was poor funding, which the panel that looked into the issue blamed on the state government.

“The state government demonstrated statesmanship by accepting the blame and increasing subvention of IMT from N20m to N120m and has sustained it under the current rector. Despite this, however, it has stopped from 2016 when the current Rector who is from Enugu north senatorial zone of Enugu state assumed office?”, they asked.

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