Certificate racketeering: FG constitutes committee to probe degree mills

Certificate racketeering: FG constitutes committee to probe degree mills

Worried by its latest discovery of illegal degrees from foreign universities, the Federal Government of Nigeria has constituted an eight-man inter-ministerial committee to probe such institutions.

While inaugurating the committee in Abuja on Tuesday, the Minister of Education, Professor Tahir Mamman, disclosed that the probe will also extend to private universities in Nigeria.

He tasked them to do their job diligently without fear or favour.

The committee is headed by Professor J.D. Amin, the Chairman of the BOT Committee of Vice Chancellors, and has Dr. Chris Maiyaki, the acting Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission, NUC, as member.

Other members of the committee include Ambassador Lazarus Kpasaba from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Abel Olanrewaju and Omeh Nwokpoku, both of the Office of the National Security Adviser; Amina Lugga from the Federal Ministry of Youth Development; Mrs. Doom Iyortyom, a representative from JAMB; and a representative from the Federal Ministry of Justice.

DAILY POST recalls that Nigerians were taken aback a few weeks ago when an online newspaper report surfaced of how universities in the Republic of Benin and Togo issue degrees to willing clients who do not have to attend such institutions.

In the report, the undercover reporter, Umar Audu, revealed how he obtained a degree within six weeks and then proceeded to enrol in the mandatory National Youth Service Corps scheme.

Following the report, the Federal Government suspended the accreditation and evaluation of degree certificates from Benin and Togo.

However, at the inauguration, Mamman said the information he got indicated that it is not only the neighbouring countries that are issuing fake degrees but also institutions outside Africa.

According to him: “These institutions are called degree mills so we need to find out so that we can protect the integrity of our education. We need to protect those who have worked hard to get degrees. We have to protect this country from these categories of people.

“We also need to find out if they indeed have collaborators. We also need to know if some of the institutions we have in this country, particularly the private ones, are giving quality service after getting licenced.”

He disclosed that the terms of reference of the committee include examining the veracity of the allegations of degree certificate racketeering within both foreign and local private universities in Nigeria and reviewing the role of any MDA or its officials (including identifying such officials) in the facilitation of the recognition and procurement of the fake certificate in question;

The remaining terms of reference, according to him, include: “Review existing policies and procedures related to accreditation and certification to identify weaknesses contributing to the issue.

“Examine the rules, procedures and processes for the recognition and accreditation of foreign universities and programmes by the Federal Ministry of Education and establish if unapproved foreign institutions (Degree Mills) exist or not in Nigeria in whatever form, with their identities and locations if any.

“Make appropriate recommendations for review of any rules, procedures, and processes to prevent re-occurrence and sanctions for identified erring officials and make other recommendations that will strengthen the system of recognitions, accreditations and quality assurance of degrees in Nigeria

“Examine the extant rules, procedures and processes for granting provisional licences to new universities by the National Universities Commission (NUC) and, without prejudice to the periodic accreditation exercise of the NUC, examine whether or not private universities established in the last 15 years have in place prescribed facilities, an appropriate management structure, adequate funding of programmes, requisite staff nature of staff – full time, contract, adjunct, visiting, other types.”

Certificate racketeering: FG constitutes committee to probe degree mills

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