The National Interim Committee (NIC) of the Benue State University Alumni Association (BSUAA) has indicted the Vice Chancellor of the Benue State University (BSU), Makurdi, Prof. Joe Tor Iorpuu, and the embattled national president of BSUAA, Comrade Lawrence Vihimga, of alleged conspiracy and diversion of a whopping sum of fifty-one million naira (N51,000,000.00) meant for the development of the association.
BSUAA interim president, Comrade Godwin Agbadu, while addressing a press conference last Friday at the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Benue State council, Makurdi alleged that, a sum of N40 million was granted to BSUAA by a United kingdom University but was allegedly misappropriated by Comrade Vihimga with the accompliceship of Prof. Tor Iorpuu.
However, when SkyNews contacted BSUAA national Public Relations Officer (PRO), Comrade Austine Fanen Ko, to get the reaction of the embattled president, he claimed they did not know anything about the said N40 million grant, saying no such money was granted to the association.
“We had no knowledge of that and had denied and dismissed same in entirety”, he maintained.
But when the interim national president was contacted again to respond to Ko’s debunking of the allegation and to provide evidence to proof his claim, Agbadu further revealed that, they were in court “to challenge Vihimga’s cruelty” and he allegedly confessed to misappropriating the Alumni’s fund. But he (Agbadu) would not like to expose their evidence to the press.
He also alleged that Comrade Vihimga had embezzled another sum of N11 million meant for the building of BSUAA secretariat at BSU, adding that N11 million was left in BSUAA treasury by a former national president of the association, Comrade Stephen Ijoh.
“We don’t need any evidence to know that grants are released to universities.
“Vihimga Lawrence, himself had accepted lavishing alumni monies to the tune of N11 million plus which was released by Gov Ortom under Ijoh. In one of our interviews with the police, he said the monies were used to pay lapo loans which they borrowed while fighting against Ijoh.
“Moreso, we are in court to challenge this cruelty. So, we can’t put our evidence on public domain. But if the VC and Vihimga feel it’s an infringement on their personalities, they can approach the court for ‘[Defame]’ and seek redress”, Agbadu said.
On why the BSU Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Joe Iorpuu, was accused of conspiracy and accompliceship in the N51 million embezzlement, Agadu explained during the press conference that Vihimga was suspended following alleged misconduct and abuse of office. But the VC went ahead to recognize and accommodate him in the varsity’s governing council instead of the interim president even as he was properly informed.
The text of the press conference of the interim Exco read in part: “consequently, congress passed a vote of no confidence on the entire BSUAA national EXCO and terminated its tenure for lack of capacity, incompetence, gross misconduct, breach of trust and financial recklessness.
“Also in line with section 13(A)(VI) of the BSUAA Constitution 2021 (as amended), congress constituted a 5-man National Interim Committee headed by Comrade Godwin Terhemba Agbadu as interim national President with comrade Adama Owoicho as interim Secretary.
“Others include Mrs Eunice Otor as Member, Chris Nenger as Member and Godwin Orseer Imbur as Member. Congress also nominated 2-secretariat officers to complement on their administrative duties to include Comrade Aloysius Kpughur and Iveren Ayisa.
“Congress therefore directed the ousted BSUAA national President and EXCO to handover all the association’s documents and property in their possession to the interim national committee with the mandate to conduct elections within six (6) months, revalidate all the existing Chapters and branches of the association amongst other issues of vital significance.
“The general public and esteemed members of the association must note that the entire process since inception to date has been appropriately communicated to the University Management and the governing council for necessary actions but to no avail.
“The general public and esteemed members of the Association resident within and outside the country may also be placed on notice on the devastating conspiracy of the Benue State University Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Tor Joe Iorapuu to drag BSUAA to the mud”.
Tracing the origin of the crisis, Comrade Agbadu said, “it may interest you to note that Lawrence Vihimga had illegally and unilaterally cancelled all the existing chapters and branches of the association that constituted the National Executive Council (NEC) with vested powers on financial approvals beyond the approval limit of the National President.
“Recall that the Stephen Ijoh led administration left over 11million naira in BSUAA account domiciled at Fidelity Bank. The money was meant for the construction of the BSUAA national secretariat complex located at the Eastern Wing of the university. Lawrence Vihimga misappropriated the funds without approval by neither the NEC nor congress of the association.
“The illegal collection of N500 naira in addition to the N5,000 from each graduating students without congress approval is another source of worry including cash collections at Alumni pay point for personal use which contradicted the provision of BSUAA Constitution 2021 (as amended). In addition to these was his failure to provide financial report for over two and half years which is alien to our financial cultural operations. Lawrence Vihimga refused, failed and neglected to present any single budget to congress for approval before carrying out expenditures. This was a gross violation of the association’s constitution.
“He regrettably abandoned the National Secretariat for his political ambition for almost a year which negates our rules of non-partisanship. He contested for the House of Representative position and purchased nomination and expression of interest form, including political rallies leading to his alleged diversion of millions of naira of BSUAA funds to finance the political jamboree”.
Comrade Agbadu also stated at the press conference that a BSUAAITE, Comrade Terna Pem, had written a petition against Comrade Vihimga, challenging the aforementioned issues.
Pem, in an interview with SkyNews also confirmed that he wrote a petition against Vihimga.
“These misdeeds were greeted by a petition from one Comrade Titus Terna Pem on alleged financial misappropriation, maladministration and highhandedness occasioned by avalanche of constitutional breaches. The document which gained access to the cyber space of our Alumni association generated a lot of tension which forced him to summon BSUAA congress on the 14th July, 2022”, Agbadu said.
Speaking further on how the NIC came on board, Agbadu said, Comrade Lawrence Vihimga was directed to step aside via a motion and to handover proceedings of congress to the 1st Vice President, Dr Caleb Terngu Chile, for the selection of a 5-man Investigative Panel that would investigate the allegations against him and report same to the congress.
“Three persons were so far selected before Lawrence Vihimga instigated the Benue State University security coordinator, one Dr Peter Ochugbudu, to truncate the proceedings inconclusively without recourse to completing the selection process.
“On the 18th July, 2022, eighty-six (86) registered and financially up-to-date members of the association had via a letter requested the Acting President to reconvene BSUAA Congress within (7) days for the purpose of completing the nominations of the rest members of the investigating panel to no avail.
“In view of the refusal, negligence and failure of the Acting President, Dr Chile to reconvene congress thirty (30) days after, members had no choice than to invoke section 10A(II)(b) and other relevant sections of BSUAA Constitution 2021 (as amended) to convene a meeting of BSUAA congress held on the 27th August, 2022.
“The congress in exercising its powers in line with Section 10(A)(I) of the BSUAA 2021 Constitution (as amended) took far reaching decisions in the interest of the association in view of the misdeeds by the embattled National President, Mr. Lawrence Vihimga, and members of his EXCO who have proven to be incapable of handling the affairs of the Association. The National Organizing Secretary, Mr. Pila Moses Tavershima stood up at the Congress and tendered his resignation letter and went ahead to express reservation on the leadership of Lawrence Vihimga.
“The seemingly decline of interest by the Vice-Chancellor on these sensitive issues and resorting to taking side with Lawrence Vihimga has made us to accept the alleged clandestine conspiracy of the Vice-Chancellor with Lawrence Vihimga to secretively defraud and share the over 40 million naira grant donated by a United Kingdom University to support Alumni of the university.
Although without proof, Comrade Agbadu also indicted Prof. Iorapuu of diverting earned allowances meant for BSU staff. Again, when asked for evidence to support his allegation, Agbadu rather challenged the VC to seek redress in court if he felt defamed.
“We are indeed not surprised at this behavior which characterized the alleged diversion of earned allowances meant for staff of the university at the expense of porch cars. This is heartless and totally unacceptable and must be rescinded forthwith.
“The recent outing by the Vice Chancellor at the Benue Television, whereat he paraded Lawrence Vihimga as BSUAA National President is highly condemnable and unacceptable in all ramifications. The VC should note that he is not in position to determine the BSUAA national President.
“The Court case instituted by Lawrence Vihimga challenging his removal from office without an order of court, cannot be a yardstick for retaining him as BSU Alumni representative against the wish of the congress. As earlier stated in our letter to the Vice Chancellor, the convention in BSUAA is that an impeached president or national officer stands impeached pending the determination of his case. That is why Lawrence Terungwa Vihimga was elected national President while the case of Stephen Ijoh (who later produced Barr Benki Womboh) challenging his impeachment was still in court”.
The interim Exco therefore urged the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Tor Iorpuu, to stop dealing with Comrade Lawrence Vihimga in line with Congress and Board of Trustees Resolutions before him.
They also asked the VC to invite Comrade Godwin Terhemba Agbadu on the Governing Council of BSU as the Alumni representative forthwith as well as to replace Lawrence Vihimga with Godwin Terhemba Agbadu in the Committee(s) of the Governing Council and the 18th – 21st Convocation activities of the university slated to hold between 16th – 18th February, 2023.
The Agbadu led BSUAA interim Exco threatened to stop the BSU combined 18th- 21st convocation if their demands are not met and they gave the VC a 72-hour ultimatum from the day of the press conference which was on Friday February 10, 2023.
“If the Vice Chancellor of Benue State University, Makurdi neglects, fails and refuses to comply with our demands within seventy two (72) hours from the date of this press conference, we’ll not hesitate to pass a vote of no confidence and use all legal and known peaceful means, including peaceful protest to stop the forthcoming university convocation and impress on the Executive Governor of Benue State and visitor to the university to remove him from office for maladministration and other reasons we’ll put before the public”, Agbadu blew hot!
But BSUAA national PRO, Comrade Austine Fanen Ko, who rejoined in a statement on behalf of the Vihimga led BSUAA national Exco, described Comrade Agbadu’s interim Exco as an illegal group, adding that they have approached the court to stop them from parading.
Part of the statement read: “there is nothing like BSU Interim Committee and the existence of same is a mirage hence there is no faction in the Association.
“The purported meeting at the NUJ house which brought about this illegality was masterminded by the enemies of the association and same was done against the 2022 BSUAA constitution as amended.
“The national Exco in their efforts to addressing the illegality had since approached the court of competent jurisdiction to get necessary orders that will compel the group to stop parading themselves in the name of the association.
“The same people who claimed to be caretaker/ interim committee have gone to a lower court as stakeholders and not as Interim committee this time, thereby contradicting themselves and acknowledging Comrade Vihimga Lawrence as the National President of the Association. The matter is still on, why then resort to taking laws into their hands? Though is an exercise in futility.
“Recoiled in confusion, the group sought an order of the courts to stop President Vihimga and his EXCO from operating as National Executive officials of BSUAA and also operating BSUAA’s bank accounts and same orders were struck out by the court for lacking in merit. The records are there, what then makes them feel they should be recognized anywhere? That’s contempt of the court!
“The National President, Comrade Lawrence Vihimga was legitimately elected along 15 others in December, 2019 and their tenure ends December, 2023. Until proven otherwise by the Law Court, President Vihimga remains our one and only BSUAA global President.
“The National Executive Council (NEC) of BSUAA in their recently held NEC meeting, passed a vote of confidence on Comrade Vihimga’s leadership.
“President Vihimga represents the Alumni on Governing Council and is currently a member of the Convocation sub-committee on Publicity and contacts. So, his appearance on the Benue Television with the VC was not a favour from Prof. Joe Tor Iorpuu, the Vice Chancellor of BSU as claimed. It was part of the activities scheduled for the event and being the Alumni President, he represents the grandaunts.
“There is no counterpart fund from any where to the Alumni or the University. Therefore, the allegation against the Vice Chancellor is baseless and unfounded.
“The National EXCO in unison frowned at the allegations of conspiracy, fraud and misappropriation leveled against the National President and the VC and called on those gullible scavengers to prove the allegation or face the full wrath of the law”, Ko kicked back.