FG widens search net for illegal varsities, fake certificates

Federal Government has announced plans to widen the net for operators of illegal universities in Nigeria and beyond, where some Nigerians patronize for illegal certificates.

It gave a hint that the treatment meted to Benin and Togo republics might be extended to Kenya, Uganda and some other countries as part of effort to clean up the rot in the accreditation and validation of certificates from foreign universities.

Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, said in a TV interview that the government was concerned about the development, and committed to cleaning the rot in the system and punishing those involved in the racketeering.

The minister described the people that had participated in the school as criminals who deserve to be prosecuted. “No student or Nigerian has any business going to patronize such places. I have no sympathy for such a person. Instead, they are part of a criminal chain that should be arrested.”

But Jafar Jafar, publisher of Daily Nigerian, in a X (Twitter) post, expressed doubt in the ability of the Federal Ministry of Education and Department of Security Service (DSS) to carry out proper investigation on the matter.

He wrote: “But the problem is that the DG of @OfficialDSSNG Magaji Bichi has employed over 100 Cotonou and Togo “graduates” from his hometown. Insiders said the service lowered its recruitment bar, set aside its strict, multi-level recruitment tradition to inject quacks into the once prestigious service. I hope DSS will not delegate officers with Tokunbo degrees to represent the service in investigating this academic fraud.

“These quack graduates are also employed in choice government MDAs such as CBN (yes, CBN), FIRS, National Assembly Service Commission, NDIC, name it!. I won’t advise the government to sack them outright, but I will advise the government to re-train them by giving them a 4-year study leave within which to properly acquire degrees in recognized institutions.”

Meanwhile, some observers in the education sector have asked the minister to extend its searchlights to the activities of some tertiary institutions in Nigeria.

They pointed to the fact that illegal institutions were on the rise, and innocent students were being swindled of their fortunes and issued illegal certificates.

A university lecturer who pleaded anonymity said that “unfortunately, we have a weak system that would enable us to detect these fake certificates being issued by the unapproved institutions.

“The recent media report by an undercover journalist who was able to acquire a university degree in six weeks and was mobilized for the NYSC programme was one of the numerous cases we have in Nigeria. Unfortunately, many people have escaped with these fake certificates because we have a corrupt and weak system.”

Recent investigations by Daily Sun revealed that some acclaimed education consultants were operating illegal satellite campuses of various Nigerian tertiary institutions in different locations in the country.

The Federal Government, in 2019, banned polytechnics from operating study centers and campuses outside their approved bases (satellite campuses) for being short in quality and standard.

It warned that whatever qualifications obtained from such study centers and satellite campuses would not be recognized for further studies or enlistment into the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme, as well as for employment or promotion.

Unfortunately, these illegal campuses have been running for years unchecked, and have been issuing certificates to thousands of students across the country in clear violation of the directive from the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE).

Either directly or by proxy, the satellite campuses have sprung up in Abuja and several other locations across the country, and thousands of innocent students are being swindled of their financial fortune, with promises of “certificate” including NYSC discharge or exemption certificate.

However, there are accusations from some Polytechnics that the attention of the NBTE has been drawn to the activities of these “fraudsters” who have been using the name of some institutions to run satellite campuses across the country, thus defrauding innocent students of their fortune.

Some officials at the NBTE and Federal Ministry of Education headquarters were, however, accused of compromise in their responsibilities of monitoring the activities of the Polytechnics or deliberately working as accomplices for whatever selfish reason(s).

Findings further revealed that privately-owned polytechnics were mostly involved in the deal and have been “reaping” huge financial resources from thousands of students who are unaware of the true state of the campuses, particularly the fact that satellite campuses are unknown to NBTE, hence their operations illegal.

Late last year, the management of Novelty Polytechnic, Kishi, Oyo State, raised the alarm that some people have used the name of the school to operate satellite campuses across several locations in Lagos, Abuja, Oyo, Ogun, and Niger states, among several yet-to-be-identified locations.

Investigation further revealed that some education consultants also operate satellite campuses for three different private polytechnics, namely, NACABS, Polytechnic, Akwanga, Nasarawa State; Temple Gate Polytechnic, Aba, Abia State; Heritage Polytechnic, Eket, Akwa-Ibom State; Imo State University, under the trade name of Bright Management Concept Institute (BMCI) Abuja.

Hundreds of students have been admitted for different academic programmes by the BMCI at different satellite campuses across the country. The operators offer programmes including Higher National Diploma (HND) programmes that are neither known to the parent-schools nor being offered in their respective main campuses.

They operate the satellite campuses at Ado, Kabayi and other locations in Karu LGA, Nasarawa State as well as in Garki Area 10, Lugbe, Kubwa, and some other locations in Abuja, with hundreds of students in their admission database. It was also gathered that they offer several OND and HND courses in engineering, administration, social sciences and other, and hundreds of students are in their database.

A contact number in the letterhead of NACABS Polytechnic sighted by our correspondent, identified through Truecaller as David Abuluya, confirmed that they operate satellite campuses, but refused to confirm the one in Ado. “Whoever is operating any satellite campus in Ado, Nasarawa State, is a fraudster,” he said.

A female prospective student who preferred to be identified as Enoh said many people that she knew were in the school, but unknown to them, they were being deceived and defrauded by operators of the satellite campuses that were unknown to the parent institution.

“Thank God for a friend that saved me. I would have fallen victim to these fraudsters. Someone I trusted and still trust referred me to the satellite campus of NACABS Polytechnic located in Ado, Karu LGA, Nasarawa State, with strong conviction that the school was the best for me since I was interested in getting education.

“With the level of trust, I have in him, I took off to the school to purchase a form. I was told the campus is located at Ado and direction was provided, hence zoomed off to the location. I stopped at Ado junction, crossed the road as if I was going back to Nyanya, and took Okada to the place. It wasn’t difficult to locate because virtually all the Okada operators know there. That was how I found myself there and purchased the form at N5,000 which I paid cash to the person I met there.

“The man gave me more information about the school as I enquired. He also told me that I can start as soon as I want and as soon as I can pay my school fees which, according to him, was over N60,000.

“It was when I returned home to fill the form that I began to ask questions about the school and my interest in running a programme there. This was because I was curious and troubled in my spirit. A friend who questioned the genuineness of the school referred me to an NBTE official who told me that the operations of satellite campuses had been banned by the Federal Government long ago. The official advised me not to participate in such activities because the school was not registered with them, hence its academic activities and certificates are illegal.”          

Someone in the school who also prefers anonymity said he started the school three years ago with N46,000 as school fees which was later increased to N65,000. “I can’t believe what you are saying about the illegitimacy of the campus.

“We went to Akwanga to participate in the matriculation. Many of the students have graduated and participated in the NYSC programme. How can you now tell me that the school is illegal and unregistered? How do I also tell my people that the school I have been attending all these years is unregistered?

Bacima (not real name), a student newly admitted into the Lugbe, Abuja, satellite campus of Temple Gate Polytechnic, run by BMCI, said that he resumed classes a few weeks ago, and was yet to pay school fees. “I paid for the cost of the admission form. They gave me their Access bank account number for the payment of the school fees (N69,000) but I am yet to get the complete amount.

A BMCI lecturer identified through Truecaller as Gbande Ngutsav Utu, insisted that the satellite campus of Temple Gate Polytechnic located at Lugbe Primary School, Abuja, is genuine and many students have graduated and participated in the NYSC programme.

“Have no fear if you are interested in our programme because we are legit. This centre started in 2015 and many people have passed through it successfully and have participated in NYSC. I can assure you that the Federal Government is aware of the satellite campus. Temple Gate Polytechnic is not the only one operating a satellite campus at the Lugbe Primary School. There are several other Polytechnics and even a university, Imo State University. So, I can assure that we are legit and recognized.


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