The management of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, has confirmed the suspension of the Provost of the institution’s College of Medicine, Godfrey Iyalomhe, and two other principal officers of the college over allegations of financial impropriety and abuse of office.
Other officers who were suspended along with Mr Iyalomhe are the Acting Dean, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, Harrison Otamere, and the Head of Department of Nursing, Ifeanyi Nwadike.
The new development came barely three weeks after the suspended provost approved an internal memo threatening that medical students would lose their studentship if they failed to pay a mandatory N50,000 hostel construction fee.
The university management in a memo signed by an administrative official and Public Relations Officer (PRO) for the institution, Lawrence Isiraojie, noted that the decision was taken to allow independent investigations into the petitions by students and staff of the university against the provost and the other two officials of the college.
On 5th of July, an internal memo containing the threat to the students was shared by sources in the college. It was personally signed by the provost, Mr Iyalomhe, a professor, with a strict warning that failure to heed the instruction would earn the defaulters dismissal in the case of old students and withdrawal of admission in the case of fresh students.
Many sources confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that the decision forced some fresh students to reconsider the admission offer while returning students also panicked.
Mr Iyalomhe’s memo noted that a consensus was reached on 7th March, 2020 by the college management, a consultative forum and students’ association that every medical student should pay N50,000 to complete a hostel under construction.
The memo also stated that the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria (MDCN) has made the hostel one of the prerequisites for further induction of graduated doctors or admission of new students to the college.
“Consequently, I am to direct that every medical student must show evidence of payment of the above levy before taking part in any End-of-Posting Examination, Professional Examinations or resuming any new Clinical Posting.”
When PREMIUM TIMES called the suspended provost at the time, Mr Iyalomhe said the matter was not for public consumption because “it was not a matter for the newspaper.
“Please the memo is a private one and doesn’t have anything to do with newspapers,” he said.
The memo announcing Mr Iyalomhe’s suspension, obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, reads in part: “I am directed to inform staff and students of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, that the University Management on the directive of the Special Intervention Team (S.I.T -AAUE) has suspended the Provost, College of Medicine, Professor G.B.S Iyalomhe, Acting Dean, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, Dr Harrison Oghogho O. Otamere and the Head of Department of Nursing, Mr I Nwadike from their offices.
“The suspension is sequel to several petitions received from staff and students of the College of Medicine on allegations of abuse of office and financial impropriety levelled against them.
“The suspension of the officers from office is to enable the Management of the University carry out a detailed and unbiased investigation into the said allegations.”
When asked if the suspension was in connection with the hostel fee, Mr Isiraojie said he could not give specifics.
“I can only tell you to simply use the memo at your disposal,” he said.
Other allegations against provost
Meanwhile, further findings have shown that Mr Iyalomhe’s professorial promotion had been criticised by some petitioners.
The petitioners called for an investigation “to ascertain if his promotion was procedural, merited and in consonance with the appraisal and promotion criteria of the university as well as global best practices.”
Daily Independent Newspaper on 7th February reported that a staff in the Department of Anatomy, Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences, Ujaddughe Oriasotie, submitted a petition to the authorities against Mr Iyalomhe on 2nd February.
The petition which was addressed to then Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University, Sonnie Adagbonyi, alleged that Mr Iyalomhe’s promotion to the ranks of both Reader and full professorship were manipulated in violation of the university’s appraisal and promotion criteria and best global practices by the immediate past Vice-Chancellor of the University, Ignatius Onimawo.
The newspaper further reported that while reacting to the allegation, Mr Iyalomhe said his appointment as provost followed laid down procedures.
He described the petitions as frivolous.
Student reacts to hostel charges
When contacted, a graduating student and former students’ union leader at the medical college, who does not want to be quoted for fear of victimisation, said he feared that a newspaper report would not affect their chances of graduation.
“What we want right now is to graduate and leave the school after spending more than the expected time,” the student said.
He noted that the leadership of the students’ union met to appraise the situations, weigh options and concluded to pay the fee “since it seems we don’t have a choice for now”.
The source added; “It is not actually imposed on us as the media thinks. We met with the management to take the decision because since the government could not complete the building and it is part of the accreditation criteria, it is the best decision at the moment.
“The school is in a mess and it is only the medical school that seems afloat at the moment. Anything to upset this balance will see some of us who have a few months to go spending extra years.”