Facts have emerged on why President Muhammadu Buhari sacked the Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims Commission (NCPC).
An online newspaper, African Examiner, which had trailed the matter long ago, reported series of sleaze. In a statement issued by Mr Willie Bassey, Director of Information, Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (OSGF), in Abuja on Tuesday, said the action was “in line with the provision of Section 4, Sub-Section 3 of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission Act.
Examiner reported thus: The Nigerian Christian Pilgrim Commission (NCPC) led by Rev. Tor Uja had previously been accused of high level corruption, mal-administration and misappropriation even as the office of the Vice President, overseeing the commission looks the other way.
Rev Uja was accused of misappropriating millions of naira and failure to apply federal character in selection for pilgrimages.
African Examiner reported earlier that among the issues Rev Uja is accused of and investigated for alleged misappropriation of $229,000 which he claimed was spent on workshops in July 2017.
Also a $103,000 was claimed by Uja as having been spent on hiring of a hall during the education workshop for bidders in Israel in 2018 whereas the event took place at the hall of the Embassy of Nigeria in Tel-Aviv.
He was also accused of using $34,000 to pay for adverts in two newspapers in Israel, but the among could not be substantiated with advert rates of newspapers in Israel.
Our correspondent also gathered that Rev Uja was accused of using the commission’s funds to pay his numerous personal staff that he designated as Personal assistants on ICT, Liaison, Protocol, Registry as well as Special Assistants whereas he is not entitled to not more than one Special Assistant as other staff are expected to be drawn from within the commission to reduce cost.
The Executive Secretary is also being accused of collecting offerings from pilgrims in Israel saying the commission intends to build a Nigeria Prayer House in Israel which is not in any way accounted for as no such account is known to the commission’s account department.
In January 2019 in Jerusalem, after a Prayer Convocation which was made up of Adamawa, Plateau, Delta, Ekiti and Anambra pilgrims, offerings were collected from the pilgrims in both Naira and dollars but yet to be accounted for.
While sacking him today, the President directed the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to work out an appropriate framework for the operation of offshore account maintained by the Christian Pilgrims Commission.
Ujah has, therefore, been ordered to hand over to Mrs Esther Kwaghe, Director of Administration in the commission, who is to oversee the office, pending the appointment of a substantive executive secretary.
When the scandal broke few months ago, efforts by some online newspapers as a group to get Uja’s side of the story had proved abortive.