Presidency faults Onu, NITR council contests minister’s dissolution order

There is indication of imminent crisis following the decision by the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, to dissolve the Governing Council of the Nigerian Institute for Trypanosomiasis and Onchocerciasis Research, Kaduna.

The NITR’s Governing Council had asked the minister to withdraw the decision dissolving the board, noting that the tenure of the members which began in 2018 would elapse in 2023.

The controversy over the dissolution of the institute Governing Council began  when the minister in a letter dated August 5th, 2021 notified the Chairman of Board of NITR, Haruna Lambu, that the tenure of the board had elapsed.

Onu had argued that in line with the laws and regulations guiding the tenure of agencies and research institute’s under the umbrella of the ministry, “It has become necessary to inform you and members that the tenure of the Governing Board which was inaugurated on Tuesday 8th March 2018 elapsed 7th of March, 2021”.

The Minister pointed out that “consequently, the Director General/Secretary of Board has been directed to prepare end of tenure report and submit to the ministry”

However, the action of the minister  has already elicited reactions from the Presidency and the lawyers of NITR board.

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The Presidency had earlier written a warning memo against the Ministry, dated September, 1st 2021 over undue administrative Interference, harassment and intimidation.

In the letter addressed to the Minister by the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Administration and Operation), Ibrahim Dikko Adamu  titled, “Undue Interference bordering on wrongful and unlawful intimidation, oppression and harassment of the Governing Council of NITR and the ignoble role of the Minister in perpetuating Dr Augustine Chinyere Igweh as Director General of the Institute after due retirement.”

Adamu said, “The President has directed the Federal Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation to stop interfering in the administrative procedures which are within the mandate of the NITR Governing Council.  Mr President has also directed the Head of Service of the Federation to take disciplinary actions on Dr Augustine Igweh for using the police to forcefully take over management of the Institute”.

Meanwhile, the lawyer for the board members, Shuaibu Umar, in a reply letter dated September 1, 2021 to the minister over the premature dissolution of the board, said from the provisions of law, that the “tenure of office of members of all the councils created and established by the Act is five years and not three years as erroneously claimed by the Honourable minister.”

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