The Federal government has announced the suspension of evaluation and accreditation of degree certificates from the neighboring Benin Republic and Togo.
In a statement released on Tuesday, January 2, by Augustina Obilor-Duru on behalf of the Director Press and Public Relations of the Federal Ministry of Education, the federal 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.”
The statement noted that the suspension followed an investigative report by an online newspaper, which unravelled a Cotonou-based University, which issued a degree certificate to an undercover Journalist within six weeks.
The government said the suspension will remain in place 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 (DSS), and the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC).
The statement reads in parts;
“The attention of the Federal Ministry of Education has been drawn to the commendable work of investigative journalism that led to the publication by the Daily Nigerian Newspaper dated 30th December 2023 titled “UNDERCOVER: How DAILY NIGERIAN reporter bagged Cotonou varsity degree in 6 weeks, participated in NYSC scheme.
This report lends credence to suspicions 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.
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 (DSSS), and the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC).”
The Ministry also said it has 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 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,” the statement added.
In December 2022, a journalist with Daily Nigerians reached out to a racketeering syndicate that specializes in selling the infamous degree certificates from the neighboring countries to willing buyers at an ‘affordable rate’. The agent however gave the reporter the option of “studying” for a year or month, but he opted for the month option.
“That’s not a problem; we can help. If the money is ready, we can help you out. We have done it for a lot of people. If you make the payment now, the results will be ready next month,” the assured the undercover reporter
The reporter’s choice of mass communication from any “university” in Cotonou was premised on the fact he could easily scale through the screening as he had knowledge of the course. The agent gave the reporter the breakdown of the amount to pay, which included tuition fees, an evaluation letter, a resident permit, immigration stamps at the border post and transportation.
On December 27, 2022, the reporter made the payment and was issued a payment receipt. True to the agent’s words, the certificate and transcript of Ecole Superieure de Gestion et de Technologies, ESGT, Cotonou, Benin Republic, were delivered to his office on February 17, 2023.