Delta State Commissioner for Higher Education, Prof. Hope Eghagha, has denied allegation by an on-line publication that he was involved in a bursary fraud.
Eghagha, in a statement, yesterday, said: “My attention has been drawn to a publication by an on-line publication, which reported an alleged demonstration by some students of University of Lagos, during which some libelous statements were credited to one Ambrose Ezenwani, a former student of the University of Lagos.
“Ordinarily, I would have ignored the report. But because my name and reputation, which I have built over three decades, are being impugned by Ezenwani, I have decided to issue a rebuttal. I have also briefed my counsel to initiate action against the slanderer.
“I was never detained by any security organisation in the country or elsewhere as alleged by Ambrose. We live in a country in which once an allegation is made against government officials, the onus is on the official to prove guiltlessness.
“A detailed account of how payments were made is available at the Delta State Scholarship Board. For two years running, we have published names of beneficiaries in some national newspapers. The response has been encouraging.
“I have been in government, trying to practice what I preached as a critic, by ensuring judicious use of public funds. I have never been involved in fraud and will never get into fraudulent actions. I have, working in concert with others, and with the approval of our prudent governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, saved Delta State Government millions of naira by plugging leakages. What is being spearheaded by Ambrose and his cohorts is a backlash against us for being the driving force against years of bursary scam.
“The first point to be made is that on assumption of office as Commissioner for Higher Education in 2009, I was confronted with one sad reality: some funds meant for students never got to them. A cabal within the institutions and others cornered funds meant for students. Along with members of the Scholarship Board headed by Monsignor Buchi Aninye, we took steps to sanitise the process. All staff were transferred and new persons posted to the board from the civil service. A new Executive Secretary was also appointed by the governor.
“We introduced online registration so that potential beneficiaries could deal directly with the scholarship board. This yielded fruits as 23,000 fake names were discovered and expunged from the list.” (Vanguard)