FG to probe 107 private universities over award of fake degrees

The Federal Government has announced that it will launch an investigation into the award of fake degree certificates by some private universities in Nigeria.

The move follows a journalist’s investigation, which revealed certificate racketeering in adjacent Benin Republic and Togo.

In the last 15 years, at least 107 private institutions have been formed.

The Federal Government’s Inter-Ministerial Investigative Committee on Degree Certificate Milling would investigate “whether or not private universities established in the last 15 years have in place prescribed facilities, appropriate management structure, adequate funding of programmes, requisite state, and nature of the staff – full-time, contract, adjunct, visiting, and other types.”

The committee noted that the probe was “without prejudice to the periodic accreditation exercise of the National Universities Commission.”

“Memoranda from the general public are, therefore, solicited to provide information to the committee to help it make appropriate recommendations to address the menace in line with its terms of reference,” the committee said.

In his investigative report published late last year, Daily Nigerian journalist Audu had narrated how he obtained a degree within six weeks from Benin Republic and even proceeded to embark on the mandatory youth service under the National Youth Service Corps scheme in the country.

Reacting, the Federal Government, on January 9, 2024, said it would launch an investigation into private universities established in the last 15 years.

The Minister of Education, Prof. Tahir Mamman, made this known in Abuja while inaugurating the Inter-Ministerial Committee on fake degrees and activities of degree mills in the country.

The Committee Chairman, Jibrila Amin, noted that the inter-ministerial committee would “Review 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 committee will also “examine the rules, procedures and processes for recognition and accreditation of foreign universities and programmes by the Federal Ministry of Education; Establish if unapproved foreign institutions (Degree Mills) exist or not in Nigeria in whatever form with their identities and locations if any.”

It is expected to “make appropriate recommendations for review of any rules, procedures, and processes to prevent re-occurrence and sanctions for identified erring officials.

“Make other recommendations that will strengthen the system of recognition, accreditations and quality assurance of degrees in Nigeria and examine the extant rules, procedures and processes for granting provisional licenses to new universities by the National Universities Commission.”