The family of the Registrar of the National Examinations Council (NECO), Godswill Obioma, on Monday said the examination body’s boss died after a brief illness and not assassinated as earlier speculated.
The clarification was contained in a message the son of the late Professor of Educational Measurement and Evaluation, Godswill Obioma the shared with the management of NECO on Tuesday morning.
The position of the family was also confirmed by Mr Obioma’s personal assistant, Obinna Otumdi.
Mr Otumdi said that he was not in the best position to speak on the death of his late boss noting that the family will address the public soon.
He said that his boss was ill briefly, before nature took its course.
The family’s message which was sent on Tuesday morning to NECO’s Director of Human Resources Management, Mustapha Abdul said that, Mr Obioma died on Monday afternoon.
“Dear Sir, this is to formally inform you that my father, Prof. Godswill Obioma, the Registrar/Chief Executive Officer of NECO passed to eternal glory yesterday 31/5/2021 after a brief illness.
“We request that you kindly notify the board, management and the entire staff of the Council of this development. We shall keep you duly informed.” said the deceased second son.
The nature of the late NECO boss’ illness was however not indicated in family message.
Sources at the examination body and relations of the late Mr Obioma claimed that the deceased travelled from Abuja to Minna on Monday morning.
“But when he reached the city gate in Minna, he told his entourage that he would not be able to go to the office and went home with his security aides. The others, including his personal assistant, Otumdi, left for the office,” a sources, who pleaded for anonymity said.
Another source claimed that the NECO registrar called his personal assistant around 3.00pm to tell him that he was too tired and that he would not make it to the office.
“Around 4 p.m., the police officials who were downstairs in his house called the PA to complain that their boss was yet to return downstairs and the PA told them that he already spoke with him and that he was fine.
“But by 5 p.m. when the PA returned home and went upstairs, he saw a lifeless body of his boss.” He added.
The PA was said to have called in the security details immediately and they rushed Mr Obioma to an unnamed hospital in Minna where he was pronounced dead.
His body was also said to have been moved to the National Hospital in Abuja on Monday evening, where he was again confirmed dead.
Another source said that the late NECO boss has been facing a tough time at the examination body, following allegations of mismanagement and corrupt practices.
Mr Obioma, a former Executive Secretary of the Nigeria Educational Research and Development Council (NERDC), was the Resident Electorial Commissioner for the Independent National Electoral Commission in Ebonyi State before he was appointed NECO registrar in May 2020.
His appointment followed the removal of the former registrar of the examination body, Charles Nwakwe, over corruption allegations and poor management.
Similar fate however befell Prof who was also accused of corruption and other illegalities by staff and board of the agency immediately after he took over.
Another source claimed that Prof Obioma was queried over various allegations including compromising the sanctity and integrity of the examinations being conducted by the body, especially the release of keys to the examination body’s vault where sensitive materials were kept, to his PA, Mr Otumdi whose parents were said to own a private school in Nasarawa State.
According to the report of the investigative panel set up by the examination body, Prof Obioma was also said to have attempted to release the sum of N1.8 billion to some contractors who the board had said should not be paid.
Some of the allegations read thus “On Thursday, 18th June 2020, you approached the Director, Finance and Account (DFA), with a document purported to have been given to you by the Hon. Minister of State for Education (HMSE), a government official, directing him to pay the duo of BIZZDESK and FRONTEDGE the sum of one billion, eight hundred thousand naira (N1,800,000,000.00) being money claimed by the duo for service rendered; whereas you were aware that the Council is in court with these companies for refund of three billion naira (N3,000,000,000.00) for services not rendered between 2010 – 2018.
“The DFA further claimed that you said that the companies would, in return, appreciate your gesture with the sum of nine hundred million naira only (N9,000,000,000.00) upon payment to be shared between the Hon. Minister of State for Education (HMSE), yourself, DFA and his staff. The DFA flatly refused, and promptly notified the Board Chairman. This act is tantamount to fraudulent practices, bribery, corruption and sabotage under Section 4, No. 030402 (j, k & t) of the PSR.”
The board of NECO had recommended the removal to the Education Minister, Adamu Adamu. The recommendation was subsequently forwarded to President Muhammadu Buhari for approval.
Sources inside the Presidency said that the announcement of the deceased’s removal would have been made during the week before his death was reported on Tuesday morning.