Contrary to the accusations that he is presiding over the Ministry that has swept under the carpet of impunity, the
N400 million alleged theft that swept off from office, the then acting Director General of the National Biotechnology Agency (NABDA), Alex Akpa, the supervisory Minister of Science and Technology Dr. Ogbonna Onu has denied the insinuations.
The Minister was reacting to a freedom of information request sent to his office by the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) on behalf of 36 other affiliates just as the Minister alluded to the ongoing investigation of the alleged scam in NABDA by the Independent Corrupt Practices and allied offences Commission as the reason why he will not say whether the former DG would be prosecuted or otherwise.
Ogbonnaya Onu, the Science and Technology minister responded in a letter dated January 20th 2021 but received on February 3rd 2021 by HURIWA, and endorsed on behalf of the minister by Yv. U. Odu- Thomas (Mrs) the Director of legal services, titled “RE: ON PROFESSOR ALEX AKPA: A REQUEST FOR CLARIFICATION.”
The Minister wrote as follows:“I am directed to acknowledge receipt of your letter on the above subject matter and respond accordingly.
I am further directed to inform you that in your request, you alluded to the fact that this matter is still the subject of an ongoing investigation by Independent Corrupt Practices and Other related Offences Commission (ICPC).
Consequent upon the provisions of Section 12(1) vi of the Freedom of Information Act, the Ministry is precluded from revealing information that will obstruct an ongoing criminal investigation.
Please, accept the assurances of the Honourable Minister’s best regards”.
Recall that a prominent Civil Rights Advocacy group-: HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) had accused the federal government of sweeping under the carpets several cases of alleged disturbing corrupt practices by ‘favoured’ top public officials just as the Rights group said the Federal Attorney General and minister of justice Abubakar Malami(SAN) has refused to investigate the allegations that an unnamed top official of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences commission (ICPC) secured employment slots at the embattled National Biotechnology Development Agency Agency (NABDA) under the then acting Director General Professor Alex Akpa so as to grant soft landing to the now dismissed head of the agency over alleged heist of N400 million.
On the NABDA CORRUPTION fiasco, the Rights group said the secrecy surrounding the release from detention of the said sacked acting DG of NABDA Professor Alex Akpa by the ICPC for over a Month and the non- disclosure of the status of that matter which apparently has not been charged to Court fuels the allegations obtained from an intelligence source embedded within the management of the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) that a lot of hurriedly packaged employment slots were allotted allegedly by the then acting DG when he acted for two years in anticipation that should there be need to be called to answer charges of financial impropriety that the ‘big Masquerade’ with a lot of influence within the ICPC could grant him soft landing.
HURIWA has asked the nation’s Chief Law officer to use his powers to investigate whether there is any credibility or believability in the intelligence provided to us by some very top directorate officials at the National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA). “We had confronted the disgraced erstwhile acting DG of NABDA Professor Alex Akpa with this intelligence but he flatly denied it as an act of falsehood against him by his enemies hunting him out of office. However, HURIWA thinks the AGF/MINISTER of Justice should find out why the ICPC has been silent on the accusations they publicly made against the dismissed acting DG of NABDA Professor Alex Akpa for over one Month since his widely publicised detention from which he immediately secured a bail and till date no word has been said if the alleged disappeared N400 million has reappeared.
In a statement by the National Coordinator Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko and the National Media Affairs Director Miss Zainab Yusuf, the Rights group said the Minister of Science and Technology Dr Ogbonnaya Onu has also been petitioned to address the public on the allegations against his nominee who couldn’t secure the substantive appointment as DG of NABDA Professor Alex Akpa just as the Rights Advocacy group HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) told the Science and Technology minister that it is important that he speaks so Nigerians will know if he played a role or not in the said disappearance of that huge amount of public fujd given that he is the direct supervisory Minister overseeing NABDA. “We know Ogbonnaya Onu to be someone who wouldn’t want his reputation muddied so we expect him to provide immediate and far reaching clarifications on this allegations”.
Specifically, in the letter to Minister of Science/Technology copied to the Federal Attorney General and minister of justice Abubakar Malami, titled “ON PROFESSOR ALEX AKPA AND THE ICPC: DEMAND FOR YOUR INTERVENTION”, the Rights group said the following:
“We write on behalf our over ten thousand registered members and several other affiliate bodies.
Sir, we ask you to investigate the alleged collusion and compromise of officials of the independent corrupt practices and other related offence commission (ICPC) in the matter involving the just dismissed acting director general of an agency under the Federal Ministry of science and Technology known as National Biotechnology Development Agency (NABDA) in the person of Professor Alex Akpa.
We recall that the said Alex Akpa who spent two years in acting capacity was recently sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari and a replacement made.
The said disgraced erstwhile DG OF NABDA has had brushes with the law leading to his detention by the ICPC.
But regrerrably, to the shock of most Nigerians, he was picked up, detained only briefly and for a month that he was released, the ICPC has neither filed a suit nor has it made full public disclosure on the status of the allegation that the gentleman pilfered N 400, Million intervention fund belonging to NABDA.
We were also told by some top whistle blowers within NABDA, that both ICPC and EFCC allegedly got some employment slots during the two year reign of the removed acting Director General so they can institutionally cover his tracks. This intelligence can not be ascertained by us since we are not institutionally empowered to go through the records of employment that took place whilst Professor Alex Akpa acted as Director General and couldn’t get confirmation for substantive appointment. But the office of the Federal Attorney General and minister of justice Abubakar Malami SAN can comfortably obtain the information through administive means”.