Maurice Iwu- The full story of a fraudulent umpire

By Omoyele Sowore & Ikenna Ellis-Ezenekwe   

The debunking of Prof. Maurice Iwu’s claim of having obtained an undergraduate degree from the University of Bradford as revealed by Saharareporters that has now been topped by the University spokesperson indicating that Prof. Iwu’s “undergraduate degree or certificate” from Cameroon as presented to the University was neither verified nor was Prof Iwu graduate degree earned through in-class work. In essence, Prof. Iwu’s study at University of Bradford, as Saharareporters discovered was earned via research work (M.Pharm by research). However discrepancies in Iwu’s backgrounds appear to extend beyond his escapades in masking gaps in his educational qualifications. New information discovered by Saharareporters reveals the shady activities surrounding  Maurice Iwu and his non-profit organization – Bioresources Development and Conservation Inc {BDCP} which Prof. Iwu founded and piloted as his research outfit since 1993. 

  In 1999 at the 16th International Botanical Conference, Maurice Iwu made the announcement that he has found the cure for Ebola following his groundbreaking research under the auspices of his non-profit outfit-BDCP. Maurice Iwu indicated that Garcinia kola extract stopped the replication of the Ebola virus. Maurice Iwu followed his proclamation with the call that "Our limiting factor is funds. If we have a sponsor, we can do it in no time." Judging from available information, Prof. Iwu received lots of monies towards the development of his findings. As Saharareporters discovered, Prof. Iwu received millions of dollars. BDCP financial earnings as stated in Form 990 which BDCP presented to the United States Internal Revenue Service {IRS}. According to the form, BDCP amassed through grants and donors the amount of $425,947 in 1999, $367,870 in 2001, $640,917 in 2002 and $980,771 in 2003– totaling over $2.4million. It also stated clearly on the form that all of the monies were spent for the purpose of “medical research on the use of African herb for medicine”. However till date there appears no mention of further development of Garcinia kola extract to cure Ebola or any significant discoveries beyond some patents of which one of them was an “Alkaloids of Picralima Nitida used for treatment of Protozoal diseases” invented by Maurice Iwu et al., and assigned to the U.S. Secretary of the Army, Washington, D.C. U.S. Patent 5,290,553 issued March 1, 1994. Interestingly, neither U.S. nor European pharmaceutical houses have shown interest in following the leads.

 

In the Form 990 tax documents submitted to the United State Government, Prof. Iwu and his partners made a deliberate effort to hide the members to their Board of Trustees by avoiding to list their names in the form as expected. In the Article of Amendment of Bioresources Development and Conversation Program – completed in November 1994, it listed five members as members to the Board of Directors as Prof. Maurice Iwu, Dr. Lisa Messerole, Cosmas N. Obialor, Thomas F. Tata, and Dr. Chris Okunji.    

 

It becomes automatic the obvious quandary over Prof. Maurice Iwu’s research outfit, the services it really provided and the money raised. This is as the tax forms for the year 2004, 2005 and 2006 appears missing and all attempts to retrieve them from principal officers of BDCP met a brickwall. Attempts at contacting Prof. Maurice Iwu and his partner D. Chris Okunji did not yield results, messages were left for Dr. Okunji that was not returned including e-mails messages to him, the only time our investigators spoke to him at his office in Maryland he promised to call back after a “crucial meeting” but never did.  However, this dodgy behavior meshes with what a source who is a PhD holder in Pharmacy and a former colleague of Prof. Maurice Iwu at University of Nsukka told Saharareporters. The source stated, “I know that Iwu is not a Pharmacist! Knowing Iwu's penchant for publicity, he would have been featuring in all activities of Pharmacists but no, he does not because he is not one of us.”  The source continues that “Prof. Maurice Iwu is not registered with the Pharmacists Council of Nigeria (PCN). Maurice Iwu couldn’t have his way in the Faculty of Pharmacy, UNN, to be Dean (the rules are clear on who qualifies to be Dean of a School of Pharmacy in Nigeria; you must hold a 1st degree in Pharmacy!). The reason Prof. Maurice Iwu left to set up the Bioresources Conservation non-profit outfit that concentrated on herbal aspect of pharmacy is because it attracted a lot of funding from the US which he used to feather his nest”. Also, Saharareporters discovered that Prof. Iwu suspicious stints while at UNN reverberated in a manner that caused his promotion to be postponed still the year he was scheduled to leave UNN.   

 

As discovered by Saharareporters, the BDCP no longer have a physical address in the United States. Even more interesting is that the address and telephone number previously stated in BDCP’s official website as their physical address and telephone number was suspiciously changed immediately following the first publication by Saharareporters on Prof. Iwu. The new telephone number was found to be an answering service and the address fictitious one; this is according to the telephone operator who answered the call. Also raising the bar of suspicion is the manner the address for BDCP has constantly changed. The latest change of address from Maryland to a doubtful address in Washington DC as Saharareporters have discovered is an attempt to avert further prosecution by the District Court of Maryland. This is because Department of Assessments and Taxation for Maryland State has barred Prof. Maurice Iwu’s BDCP from doing business in the State of Maryland since October 3, 1995 – confirmed by a letter signed by Paul Anderson of the Department

of Assessments and Taxation for State of Maryland. Also, other documents obtained by Saharareporters’ investigators from the District Court of Montgomery County for State of Maryland shows that Prof. Iwu’ BDCP has thus been sued by Montgomery Court on charges of non-payment of taxes under case number 060100257832006. This is according to an affidavit signed by Robert Hagedoorn – the Chief, Division of Treasury, and N. Pedersen – Assistant County Attorney that states that the “defendant and BDCP owe personal property taxes, interest and penalties”. BDCP is scheduled to appear in court on April 4, 2007.

 

Sources intimately familiar with Prof. Maurice Iwu’s activities while in the United States confided in Saharareporters and revealed that Prof. Maurice Iwu did not only utilize his research outfit for research purposes alone, that he used the outfit as a cover to engage in what a source called “immigration activities” for friends, acolytes and coleagues. According to the source who also indicate that she was also a benefactor, revealed that Prof. Iwu used the research outfit to as a vehicle to bring in so-called researchers into America under the guise of research work. Another source who also spoke to Saharareporters in confidence disclosed that Prof. Iwu used his research outfit to bring her into the country and that she has co-authored a few of Prof. Iwu’s research publications. She goes on to add that she still resides in America illegally because she has not been able to change her status.       

New reports also unearthed by Saharareporters indicate that Prof. Iwu’s BDCP have had its share of financial dishonesty.  As gathered through Court records, Prof. Maurice Iwu may have deceived the US based Citibank in the amount of $45, 000 which he used to finance The International Congress on Industrial Utilization of Tropical Plants and Conservation of Biodiversity Conference held at Enugu in February 14-20, 1993 hosted by his non-profit corporation - Bioresources Development and Conservation Programme.

According to official documents obtained from Circuit Court of Montgomery, on Monday, August 10, 1992, Prof. Maurice Iwu’s son deposited a Check drawn on the United States Treasury Department in the amount of $5,000 payable to Prof. Iwu - into his father’s Citibank checking account {Acct. number XXXX2549}. Instead of crediting Prof. Iwu’s checking account with a $5,000 deposit, Citibank erroneously credited Prof. Iwu’s account with a $50,000 deposit on August 11, 1992. The error resulted in the erroneous overall credit to Prof. Iwu’s account in the amount of $45,000. Prof. Maurice Iwu who noticed the error on the following Monday August 17, 1992, acted immediately to transfer the sum of $20,000 into his savings account on the same day. Three days later which was on Friday August 21, 1992, he transferred the remaining $25,000 out of the checking account into the same savings account. On the same day of August 21, 1992, Prof. Maurice Iwu withdrew $35,000 from his savings account and converted it to a Cashier’s Check that was then transferred to London through Chevy Chase Bank in Maryland to National Westminster Bank in London. The $35,000 was then transferred to Bioresources Development and Conservation Program {BDCP} in Nigeria “to pay for expense connected with the International Congress being hosted by BDCP”.    

According to the BDCP financial statement prepared for the event and signed by Dr. Chris Okunji – the Conference Treasurer, the transferred amount of $35,000 was recorded in the document as “Donations from Overseas through Prof. Iwu”. Prior to traveling to Enugu for the conference, Prof. Maurice Iwu was approached by the bank to repay the overage. He told the bank that he has completely spent the money because he thought that the money came from one of the grants he had applied for – this is before Prof. Iwu testified in court that he brought the overage to Citibank’s attention immediately he noticed it.

But before Prof. Iwu was dragged to court, Citibank and Prof. Iwu had reached an agreement on a repayment plan both verbally and in writing from Mr. Ruppert – Vice President of Citibank in a letter addressed to Prof. Iwu and dated December 23, 1992. The letter acknowledged Prof. Iwu’s initial payment of $5,000 and outlined the agreed repayment plan as requiring Prof. Iwu to repay $10,000 in January 1993 and the balance of $30,000 in March 1993. But Prof. Iwu stopped repaying and left for Enugu to facilitate his BDCP Conference.

Upon returning from his trip to Enugu, Prof. Iwu was informed by Citibank of the laps in payments in a letter by Mr. Ruppert dated March 18, 1993 which stated in part that, “on February 3, 1993 you called and left a voice mail message indicating that you had just arrived home from an overseas trip and you would not be able to make the $10,000 payment until the end of February 1993. To date we have not received this payment.” The Vice President of Citibank, Mr. Ruppert continued in the same letter to state that, “your unwillingness to commit to a satisfactory repayment schedule implies to us that you do not intend to repay your debt.”  To this, Prof. Iwu became defiant in his refusal to repay the bank as agreed.  This he stated in a letter dated March 29, 1993 and addressed to the Vice President of Citibank – Mr. Patrick Ruppert. He states, “I was never indebted to you and that this whole transaction arose because Citibank messed up my project account which I operated at the bank”. In this same letter, he states, “I have been away to Europe and Africa since December 18, 1992 on previously scheduled travel in connection with my work. I returned to the USA briefly in the first week of February and promptly informed you of my inability to make any payments to you by the end of February and that I was traveling. I discussed with you during the meeting, I will pay $5,000 on or about November 15, and make subsequent payments in February, May, September and December 1993”. If, however, I receive a reimbursement from UNIDO {based on the request I have submitted} then I will pay the entire amount in full by March 1993. Prof. Iwu however made additional payments that total up to $17,000 before being dragged to court by Citibank seeking reimbursement of the remaining $28,000. Following nearly two years of litigation, both parties reached a settlement agreement and mutual release on February 22 1995 that mandated Prof. Iwu to repay the said amount. The details of the agreement stipulated for Prof. Maurice Iwu to make a first repayment to Citibank in the amount $4,000 no later than March 10, 1995, and then a second repayment of $4,000 on April 15, 1995. The remaining $20,000 owed will be repaid through monthly automatic debits of $750 into a new Prof. Maurice Iwu’s checking account which the courts stipulated that Prof. Iwu must open no later March 10, 1995. The debits were said to begin March 10, 1995 to be fully repaid in May 1997. Saharareporters has no information that indicates whether the amount was eventually repaid. Saharareporters placed calls to Samuel Iwu and left messages that have not been returned.

Also, Saharareporters discovered from official documents obtained from the District Court of Maryland for Montgomery County that on October 19, 1998, Prof. Iwu and Dr. Okunji both serving as President and Treasurer respectively to the BDCP received a $25,000 loan on behalf of Bioresources Development and Conservation Program Inc {BDCP} from Riggs National Bank. Prof. Maurice Iwu who acted as the personal guarantor for BDCP failed to repay the loan within the stipulated timeframe allocated. The bank in turn dragged Iwu’s BDCP to court. Interestingly, a Cashier Check drawn out of Chevy Chase Bank in Bethesda, Maryland was presented on December 4, 2006, by Samuel Iwu {Maurice Iwu’s son} in the amount $25,619.08 for repayment of the loan. Why the loan was suddenly repaid after Prof. Iwu mounted the throne of INEC becomes the obvious question, one may responsibly ask. As sources who to Saharareporters state, it points suspicion to the origin of the money and nature of dubiousness surrounding the activities at Prof. Maurice Iwu’s BDCP.

Careful examination of the character exhibited by Prof. Maurice Iwu from both his backgrounds and current activities as the INEC Chairman strongly points to a man who habitually makes false promises and failed promises. His grandiose utterance that he has found the cure to Ebola messes with his latest promise to have the candidate register available to the Nigerian public on Monday February 5, 2007. Both have turned out to be broken promise. Other indicators such as his dubious escapades with Citibank and his other creditors point to the same trait of making promises that he can fulfill. For the elections of 2003, INEC registered about 60million voters but in 2007 was only able to register 57million. The concern is whether Prof. Maurice Iwu would be able to deliver a free and fair election as promised. The ball is now in the court of everyday Nigerians to determine.     

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