National Film and Video Censors Board: How Govt Agency allegedly thrives on corruption
Exactly four years ago, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Mr. Adedayo Thomas as the Executive Director, National Film and Video Censors’ Board.
However, as his tenure ends March this year, it is tales of alleged sleaze and victimization of workers.
Several workers and board members of the Federal Government agency, who spoke to ND REPORTERS on the condition of anonymity, said they had become frustrated over the alleged under-hand dealings going on at the agency.
Though Adedayo insists he had run the agency with utmost honesty and professionalism, those working with him think otherwise.
The embattled Executive Director had told ND REPORTERS during an interview in his office that accountability and probity was his watchword, but the workers are singing different tunes.
A worker, who preferred anonymity said “we have never seen this kind of thing.
“Ever since Mr. Thomas was appointed in March 2017, things have not been the same at the National Film and Video Censors Board.
“Mr. Cornel Agim was his first victim, using the Governing Board which he had pocketed; Mr. Agim’s only offence was that he acted as a whistle blower.
“The reason Adedayo Thomas dismissed Mr. Cornel Agim from service was to send a signal to those who will be tempted to challenge his authority to spend government money anyhow.
“There are series of petitions to the EFCC and ICPC alleging fraud of over N2.8 billion, harassment of workers, payment of DTAs and estacode allowances to staff who actually did not embark on such journeys.
“Currently over thirty staff are being investigated by EFCC and some have even been asked to refund money fraudulently paid into their accounts. He will pay the money into their account and later ask them to withdraw and bring the cash to him. Refusal to comply will in most cases lead to such officers being transferred to locations considered in the opinion of Mr. Thomas as hostile and insecure.
“The Governing Board only sits when Thomas wants to present staff of the Board for dismissal or other punitive actions and they will, without supporting documents, approve the sacking and demotion of staff without following the due process.
In late 2020, one Mr. Martins Etuechere who was demoted in bad faith from the rank of Deputy Director to Assistant Director for not helping the Executive Director to counter the sale of a generator in Lagos to himself, in addition to embezzlement funds running into several hundreds of millions through a rejoinder was redeployed to Maiduguri.
“He got a judgment from the National Industrial Court reinstating him to his position and mandated the Board to pay him all his entitlements as Deputy Director right from the time he was flagrantly demoted but the Executive Director has so far refused to implement the decision of the court, hiding under the pretext that he has appealed the decision.”
He added that there were presently over ten cases instituted against the Executive Director in different courts.
“As we speak, a senior Director in the organization, who is also facing corruption allegations is being prepared to take over from Mr. Thomas in the event that he is not reappointed for a second term.
“Impunity and flagrant disobedience to the Public Service Rule is now the order of the day in the office. We have cases in some of the zonal offices and centers where lower ranking officers are placed to head their superiors,” he said.
One of his allies was also alleged to have been paid full Estacode allowance for an official trip to Germany which he never attended.
“He also punitively transferred one Mrs. Patience Okoh from Lagos office to Sokoto State office for revealing the details surrounding the sale of the office property in Lagos. She had earlier stated in her written statement to the Special Presidential Investigation Panel For The Recovery of Public Property that those items were removed from their Lagos office by the Executive Director.
“In 2019, he submitted her name for dismissal, but the majority of the Board members were against the move. They argued that her name was the 5th of senior ranked officers submitted for dismissal by Mr. Thomas. A member of the governing board, Abubakar Katcha was said to have vowed never to be part of what he called ‘sack and dismissal Governing Council’ again.
“Governing Board members who are in his pockets enjoy DTAs without travelling all in a bid to bribe them,” the source further alleged
Meanwhile, Adedayo told ND REPORTERS in his Abuja office that he had run the establishment in a most transparent manner.
While responding to the various allegations, he quipped: “The petition to anti-graft agencies was fictitious, to distract my reform process. I was cleared of the allegations by the anti-grafts and Cornel even apologised for the petition.
“On N2.8 billion fraud, it was another mischievous petition. Cornel wasn’t in the establishment and wasn’t the executive director and did not know anything about funds. They have written many petitions to anti-graft agencies, including the Code of Conduct Bureau where I have gone and cleared myself.
“You said over 30 staff are being investigated by EFCC for helping me siphon money through their bank accounts, my response to that is that the staff can be called to explain themselves at the EFCC. No staff has mentioned me at the anti-graft agency for collecting money through their bank accounts. And I’m not aware of it because no anti-graft agency will invite any staff without first writing to the organisation. Anti-grafts do not invite anonymously.
“The most important thing is that my governing board has the highest number of members in Africa. I have 52 board members and call meetings as at when due provided there is the money to fund it. We discuss budget, promotion exams and staff welfare. How can it be only when I want someone dismissed. We’ve had only Cornel and 3 others dismissed because some of them absconded. They abandoned work.
“On owing some board members perceived to be enemies, I’m not owing any board member. None of the board members are being owed anything. He should name anything board member complaining of being owed. I call meetings as and when due. It’s not possible to pay one board member and not pay the other.
“I’m not preparing anyone to take over from me. Am I the President or Minister? Did I employ myself as Executive Director? How can I now appoint my successor? It’s not possible for me to appoint anybody.
“The issue of the transfer of Mrs. Okoh from Lagos to Sokoto, I want to ask- was Mrs Okoh employed to sit in one office for 35 years? This is a federal government job and people are expected to be transferred from one office to another. Is transfer not part of the job?”