The Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN), Oron has been thrown into disarray as the new rector, Cmdr. Duja Effedua (Rtd.) is alleged to have begun his ‘controversial’ appointment in apparent reign of terror and conspiracy, having ordered the arrest of six staff of the school’s Personnel Department for alleged document peddling.
A few days back, six staffers of the academy were arrested on the order of the rector and detained in police custody at the Oron Divisional Police Office.
This reporter has it in good authority that the rector is bent on ‘executing’ the ‘mapped policies’ of the IMC which just left the academy after spending six months, ‘breaking laws’ and ‘drafting perditious principles’ for the forty years old institution.
It could be recalled that Duja Effedua was named the new rector of MAN Oron on September 6, 2017 when he was appointed by the Transportation Minister, Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi to work under a seven-man Interim Management Committee (IMC) led by Chief Adebayo Sarumi who was saddled with the responsibility of restructuring the academy before handing it over to Effedua for full superintendence.
Done with the restructuring mission which witnessed criticisms and unending protests, as it was conspicuous that the IMC was mandated to scuttle the school, having suspended admissions and academic activities, suspended indigenous management staff and scrapped many courses (though with clearer evidence of shifting admissions and service to the new Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta State and Charkin University, Port Harcourt, Rivers State), the IMC is said to have handed the task of staff dismissal into the hands of the rector.
Not even the intervention by the House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration last December, which declared the IMC as illegal, could threaten her determined stance on bringing down the institution.
Thus, in line with the ‘long leaked plan’ that no fewer than 80 percent of staff who were to face dismissal would be from Akwa Ibom State, with specific attention to those from Oron, the recent arrest of six staffers has shown the heightened conspiracy in which the rector is said to be seriously entangled in.
While one could see the ‘open exactitude’ in the report of the six arrested staff in five national dailies, including: The Sun, Vanguard, Leadership, The Tribune and the Nigerian News Direct merely ‘published as written’ by the institution’s Public Affairs Unit (PAU), with just a difference in by-lines, one’s critical curiosity is settled after the real story is told.
Although the statement by the PAU holds that the development was triggered by invitation issued by the House of Representatives Committee on Federal Character, calling MAN to rectify records “on irregularities noticed in its employment process of 2016″ in which “83 persons”, allegedly “made up of 90 percent Deeper Life members and 80 percent natives of Oro Nation in Akwa Ibom State”, investigation has proven otherwise.
Thus, against the ‘sponsored lie’ that the six staffers were caught trying to forge documents so as to confirm approval of the alleged 2016 employment and disgrace the rector before the officials of the national assembly, impeccable sources told our reporter that the rector was infuriated seeing the approved minutes that preceeded the employment 46 staff in 2015.
The source explained that before Joshue Okpo’s demise in 2015, he had employed about 18 out of the 46 staff who were approved for employment by the Federal Character Commission, a situation which was harmonised by the current Registrar, Mkpandiok Mkpandiok when he stumbled on relevant documents during his time as Acting Rector.
Meanwhile, Effedua had earlier told the National Assembly Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration last week, during a visit to the academy, that the school carried out illegal employment of 83 staff in 2016, whereas, the last recruitment excise in the academy took place in 2015, during the leadership of the late Rector, Mr Joshua Okpo and not, 2016 as claimed.
Consequently, the committee Chairman, Rt Hon. Muhammed Umaru Bago who led the team had given him a nod to dismiss illegally employed workers.
Accordingly, the said documents were said to have been printed directly from the office laptop, which meant it was just to show the rector that the exercise was genuine, as files could not be immediately checked through.
Following this, the obviously furious rector was said to have immediately ordered the arrest of all the six staff in the personnel office at that very moment, including a newly redeployed lady and Secretary from the Nautical Department, Grace Efiom who had not handled any documents in the Personnel Department.
Sources say although the Regimental Unit Commander (RUC) Capt. Abbas Yakubu who after listening to the story begged the rector to allow the matter be amicably settled in the academy, instead of calling in the police, the rector had gon ahead to order their arrest by the police some few minutes past 4pm.
At the police station, sources say persuasions by family members of the affected staff which were two males, four females, including the Director, Human Resources, Mr Emmanuel Essien, nearly fell on deaf ears until bail bargain which was peaked at N100 thousand for each person, then to N80 thousand finally settled at N20 thousand.
The six staff were later released from the Oron Divisional Police Headquarters at about 9:30pm after they were charged N20,000 each, except for that of Grace Efiom whose payment was N15 thousand.
Therefore, the claim that the six staff did not pay for their release but being freed by the rector’s order holds no water, as reliable sources insist “the staff were treated like criminals”, having only been released after cash payment.
Concrete evidence shows that the rector himself had instructed the Divisional Crime Officer, DCI never to release the arrested staff but met stiff resistance from the police who insisted that the matter was a bailable and not criminal offence.
The development, many say, is an actual execution of the ordinances of the IMC whose open scheme to dismiss about 250 staffers with no fewer than 80 percent from Akwa Ibom State had long been exposed.
Speaking further, an inside source in the academy observed that the rector was still in the web of the IMC as he had been handed the grave responsibility of flushing out indigenous staffers, in the name of non compliance to federal character regulations.
The source maintained that Effedua was beginning a reign of terror in the academy as he (rector) was neck-deep in the conspiracy of meeting the demands of the hands who sent him there.
However, some of the arrested staffers are said to have begun legal processes of dragging the rector to Court over infringement on their human rights.
Meanwhile, reactions on the employment saga were not forthcoming from the suspended Registrar, Mkpandiok Mkpandiok as calls and texts messages sent to him had no feedback at press time.
But following a recent investigation carried out by this reporter, it was gathered that the former Acting Rector had not employed even a cleaner during his one year tenure as Acting Rector.