The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission has opened an investigation into the University degree that was allegedly awarded to a Nigerian undercover reporter in Cotonou, Benin Republic, within six weeks.
The anti-graft agency has also called upon stakeholders in government and in the education sector to join hands in finding a solution to the alleged fraud.
The spokesperson for the ICPC, Azuka Ogugua, in a statement on Tuesday, said the ICPC chairman, Musa Aliyu, met with the Daily Nigerian reporter at the ICPC headquarters on Tuesday.
The PUNCH reports that this follows the investigative report by Daily Nigerian Newspaper titled, “How Daily Nigerian reporter bagged Cotonou varsity degree in 6 weeks”.
Ogugua said, “To verify details and move beyond speculation, the ICPC Chairman, Dr Musa Aliyu, SAN, convened a critical meeting today at the ICPC headquarters in Abuja with a reporter from a news outlet. They discussed the outlet’s December 30 report on alleged corrupt practices in rapid degree issuance at a Cotonou university, aiming to deepen the investigation and initiate relevant actions.
“The investigation into Ecole Superieure de Gestion et de Technologies in Cotonou reveals a concerning situation where degrees are allegedly awarded in as little as six weeks, bypassing standard academic procedures like application, registration, coursework, and examinations.
“In response to these critical allegations, the ICPC is embarking on a thorough investigation. This probe will rigorously examine the networks and individuals engaged in these malpractices to restore and preserve our educational system’s integrity.
“Furthermore, the commission will engage in a synergistic collaboration with relevant domestic and international bodies to jointly evaluate the legitimacy of academic qualifications procured from overseas institutions, especially those highlighted in the investigative report.
“The ICPC calls upon all stakeholders in the educational and governmental sectors to join hands in this critical endeavour. Together, we can work towards a future where the credibility of our educational qualifications is unimpeachable and where corruption finds no refuge.”
The PUNCH reports that in 2020, the NYSC said it would commence the prosecution of Nigerian graduates with fake credentials, especially from West African countries.
A former Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, also in 2020 noted that certain Nigerians were purchasing fake degrees from degree mills in and out of Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Education, on Tuesday announced the suspension of accreditation of degree certificates from Benin Republic and Togo.
According to a statement on signed by Augustina Obilor-Duru on behalf of the Director, Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Education, the government lamented that “some Nigerians deploy nefarious means and unconscionable methods to get a Degree with the end objective of getting graduate job opportunities for which they are not qualified.”
According to the government, the suspension persists pending the outcome of an investigation involving the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Education of Nigeria and the two countries, as well as the Department of State Security Services and the National Youths Service Corps.
The statement read, “The Federal Ministry of Education vehemently decries such acts and, with effect from 2nd January 2024, is suspending evaluation and accreditation of degree certificates from Benin and Togo Republics pending the outcome of an investigation that would involve the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nigeria and the two countries, the ministries responsible for Education in the two countries as well the Department of State Security Services and the National Youths Service Corps.
“The ministry, therefore, wish to call on the General Public to support its efforts, show understanding and provide useful information that will assist the Committee in finding lasting solutions in order to prevent further occurrence.
“The ministry has also commenced internal administrative processes to determine the culpability or otherwise of her staff for which applicable Public Service Rules would be applied.
“The issue of degree mills institutions, i.e. institutions that exist on paper or operate in a clandestine manner outside the control of regulators, is a global problem that all countries grapple with.
“FME has been contending with the problem, including illegal institutions located abroad or at home preying on unsuspecting, innocent Nigerians and some desperate Nigerians who deliberately patronize such outlets.
“Periodically, warnings have been issued by the Ministry and NUC against the resort to such institutions and in some instances, reports made to security agencies to clamp down on the perpetrators. The ministry will continue to review its strategy to plug any loopholes, processes and procedures and deal decisively with any conniving officials.”