By Ifeanyi Okolie
Fear has gripped staff of the NationalÂ Space Research Development Agency (NASRDA) located in Epe, Lagos State, following rumours of gun running being peddled against some top management staff of the agency and threats that detectives are secretly working to unravel the veracity of the rumour.
As a result of this ugly development, which has adversely affected productivity in the once viable agency, it was gathered that some of their top management staff have absconded to far-away Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory for safety.
Crime Guard investigations showed that trouble started in the agency after some of the staff registered their discontentment against the way the agency was being run by the Director- General with the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, which is their controlling ministry.
It was gathered that the situation worsened after the research centre was ungraded as a self-accounting agency starting from 2010.Â Â Â Based on this, some staff alleged that the management of the centre have started scheming to remove some key administrative staff who are strategically positioned to check any irregularities that may emanate from their new status.
The aggrieved staff also made allegations of financial malpractices, discrimination, favouritism and ethnic bias against their management, prompting the Federal Ministry of Science and Technology in Abuja to set up a committee to look into the allegations.
Sources close to the management said the committeeâ€™s report was later influenced by the top management staff who made â€˜wild, wicked and frivolousâ€™ accusations against those agitating for sanity in the agency.Â Â Â As a result of this, the source continued, the key staff, including an administrative manager, were arbitrarily transferred out of Lagos to Abuja where they will be unable to check the excesses of the top management staff.
Crime Guard learnt that when the top management staff noticed the general disaffection among the staff over the punitive transfer and re-deployment of key staff, they allegedly purchased guns worth over N8.5million.Â The set of guns, they further alleged, were safely stored in the old safe inside the Chief Accountantâ€™s office but were hastily removed in November after the aggrieved staff alerted security agencies of the illegal transaction.
As it stands presently, security agencies are said to be discreetly investigating the veracity of these allegations and will soon come up with their report.
Meanwhile, efforts made to contact the Director-General of the Centre, Dr. Saidu Mohammed, over the development failed as he was said to be away to Abuja over an urgent official matter.
When contacted, Lagos state Deputy Police spokesman, DSP Samuel Jinadu said nobody reported any case of gun running against anybody at the research centre but promised to investigate the source of the rumour.