Samson Folarin

Prof. Mansour Moudachirou, the project supervisor of the embattled Director-General of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi, Chima Igwe, has revealed that Igwe has not completed his doctoral programme at the Universite Abomey-Calavi, Benin Republic.

Moudachirou, in an exclusive interview with our correspondent, said a document he signed for Igwe in 2002 was just an indication that the 57-year-old was a doctoral student.

He said as of January 7, 2020, when our correspondent spoke with him, Igwe had yet to return to the school for his project presentation.

Moudachirou’s statement corroborated the claim of the Deputy Director of the Doctoral School of Pure and Applied Sciences, Prof. Valentine Wotto; and Director of the School of Postgraduate Studies, Prof. Joel Tossa, who had earlier been interviewed by The PUNCH.

Igwe is in the eye of the storm more than 18 years after claiming to have bagged a doctorate from the Benin Republic institution without a certificate to show for it.

He had been promoted several times based on the claim, which became contentious after he was appointed the acting director-general of the institute in May 2019.

Several ultimatums given to him to produce the certificate ended without any result as the matter also became a subject of investigation by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Offences Commission.

After the ICPC delayed in releasing the outcome of its investigation, our correspondent visited Benin Republic and was informed that Igwe had yet to complete his studies.

The ICPC later cleared Igwe, saying he duly obtained the certificate.

When the school denied giving any government agency such information, the ICPC said it had reopened investigation into the matter based on complaints.

Some groups subsequently called for Igwe’s suspension.

After months of silence, the FIIRO governing board announced that it had also opened investigation into the case and was in touch with the school.

But last Tuesday, the spokesperson for the ICPC, Mrs Rasheedat Okoduwa, during an interview on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily programme, said the anti-graft agency was in possession of documents retrieved from Igwe’s file, which indicated that he bagged the doctorate degree.

She noted that the documents were written in French and English.

“From the records we obtained from FIIRO, there was an attestation document rendered in French and signed by one Prof. Moudachirou on July 3, 2002. There was also the English translation of the document.

“The English version says: ‘In all circumstances, this certificate should be given due and worthy recognition as a matter of right’. The French version was signed by Prof. Moudachirou of that institution,” Okoduwa told the interviewer.

While refusing to give a definite timeline for the conclusion of the case, she said the matter involved another country and the agency could not “suddenly go to that institution when it is an overt investigation.”

“There are certain protocols you have to go through. You have to go through your foreign mission to ask them to find out the status of this matter,” she added.

The deputy director of the postgraduate school, Wotto, during a chat with our correspondent in August, identified Moudachirou as Igwe’s supervisor.

He also stated that the professor retired from the school without Igwe completing his studies with him.

Our correspondent obtained the document said to have been signed by Moudachirou from a credible source.

The document, dated July 3, 2002, was written in French and titled, ‘Attestation’.

The English translation titled, ‘Certificate,’ was signed by one Lawrence Allomassor for the Awuja Global Holdings, Bilingual Secretaries and Interpreters.

According to the translation, Moudachirou was identified as the President of the Sectoral Scientific Committee for Sciences and Technology of the University of Abomey-Calavi and Director, Laboratory of Pharmacognacy.

The positions, though not connected with the university’s postgraduate school, loomed large on the document, ostensibly for it to carry more weight and conviction.

Investigation by our correspondent revealed that Moudachirou and Igwe were close.

A document obtained by PUNCH Metro indicated that Igwe co-authored three articles with Moudachirou between 2005 and 2006.

A third researcher, Elenore Yayi, who was also reported to be co-supervising Igwe, was a co-author of the three articles.

The supervisor-co-author relationship might have made it easy for Igwe to persuade Moudachirou to write the attestation letter for him in 2002.

Moudachirou, however, said the document did not mean that Igwe completed his academic programme.

The retired academic, who said he could not communicate in English, spoke to our correspondent in Yoruba, a language spoken by a few West African countries.

He noted that his family was originally from Oyo State, Nigeria, and later settled in Benin Republic.

Moudachirou stated, “He (Igwe) came to do his doctoral degree with us. He started a long time ago. But because he was not based in Benin Republic, he was coming and going. He worked in Lagos. He was also working here at a time.

“He has written the thesis and completed it. But we made some corrections in his work. After effecting the corrections, he was to come back to present his thesis.

“His thesis director is now our Minister of Higher Education (Yayi). I started with him, together with the minister. But when I retired, she continued with him.”

When our correspondent asked if Igwe had submitted the final copies of the thesis with the corrections, Moudachirou said no.

He added, “We have yet to collect it to know how far he has gone so that we can fix when he will come for the presentation of his thesis.

“If he does not present his thesis, he cannot get the certificate from us. The document we gave him was proof that he started the doctoral programme.”

Moudachirou said he could remember issuing Igwe the ‘attestation’ as proof that he was running the doctoral programme.

He insisted that Igwe had not finished the programme.

Copyright PUNCH.