Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the immediate termination of appointment of Rev. Tor Ujah as the executive secretary of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims’ Commission (NCPC).
His sack may not be unconnected with the alleged diversion of $229,000 meant for ensuring pilgrims’ visit to Israel, Greece and Rome in July 2017, and another alleged diversion of $103,000 in 2018, which Ujah explained was used for hiring of a hall during the bidders’ education workshop in Israel last year. However, it was it was gathered that the workshop held inside the hall of the Nigerian Embassy in Tel-Aviv, where he could not have made any such payment.
The sacked ES was also alleged to have transferred N1 billion meant for the commission’s local budget to the commission’s offshore account between 2016 and 2017.
Ujah has been directed to hand over to the director of administration in the commission, Mrs. Esther Kwaghe, who is to oversee the office, pending the appointment of a substantive ES.
In a statement by the director of information, Willie Bassey, on behalf of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Federal Government said the termination was “in line with the provision of Section 4, Sub-section 3 of the Nigerian Christian Pilgrims’ Commission Act.”
In a related development, President Buhari has directed the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation to work out an appropriate framework for the operation of offshore accounts maintained by the NCPC, and all other Federal Government agencies, in order to streamline their operations.
Ujah, who was appointed in 2016, has since last year been under probe over allegations of fraud.
The Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation had in October 2018 given instructions for the investigation of the allegations.
He is also being investigated for 10 different payment vouchers allegedly issued between 2017 and 2018, on behalf of the commission.
However, Revd Ujah dismissed the N1.12 billion allegation.
“I don’t think there is anything to those allegations. I think he must have considered it a necessary time to make some changes in the Commission and I think it is fine.”
He said while at the Commission, he changed the management on several occasions and even had to move some staff out, while others were relocated to other places without necessarily having any allegation against anyone