Investigate All Degrees From Benin – Undercover Reporter Tells FG

Sunday, 07 January 2024 17:10

Investigate All Degrees From Benin - Undercover Reporter Tells FG

Umar Audu, the undercover reporter who succeeded in earning a university degree from Benin Republic, in as little vas six weeks, has asked the federal government to scrutinize all degrees that were issued to Nigerians from institutions in both Benin and Togo.

The government has said it is investigating the alleged racketeering of degrees from Benin but said nothing about the many fake degrees that could already be in circulation in the country.

It is also yet to officially speak on the extent its planned investigation will go and how it will liaise with affected universities in Benin Republic and Togo on the racketeering scandal unearthed by the undercover reporter from the Daily Nigerian Newspaper who still managed to register for the National Youth Service Corp after obtaining a degree in six weeks.

This is just as a professor at the University of Lagos, Victor Ariole, has called into question, the collective punishment of a large number of universities within the African region and the thousands of students currently enrolled in them.

Ariole said the government should instead single out the erring universities and students.

The undercover journalist, Umar Audu, said it is imperative for the government to conduct thorough investigations into all degrees awarded in the Benin Republic.

Audu, who spoke exclusively to LEADERSHIP Sunday yesterday, said some people earned their certificates legitimately, but most of them were obtained in a fraudulent manner.

It would be recalled that Audu, in an investigative report titled, ‘How Daily Nigerian reporter bagged Cotonou varsity degree in 6 weeks’, exposed a booming certificate racketeering syndicate in Benin Republic and Togo, that specialises in selling university degrees to willing buyers from Nigeria.

Speaking to our correspondent on what led him to go undercover, Audu said the issue of certificate racketeering is widespread in the Benin as many universities are offering fake degrees.

He also said that it is the responsibility of the National Universities Commission (NUC) and the Federal Ministry of Education to evaluate and accredit these universities to eradicate the fraud.

“There is a need to investigate all degrees from the Benin Republic, but this doesn’t mean they are all not legitimate graduates. Some people earned their certificates legitimately, but most of them were obtained in a fraudulent manner.

“The issue is widespread; in our previous investigation, we identified over 15 universities that offer these kinds of degrees.

“It’s not the responsibility of the NYSC to evaluate and accredited universities. That responsibility lies in the hands of the NUC and Federal Ministry of Education.”

Speaking further, Audu said he had prior knowledge of degrees being bought in Cotonou before embarking on the investigative journey.

According to him “Daily Nigerian did an investigation on how Nigerians smuggle ‘tokumbo’ degrees from Cotonou in February 2018. So, this was like a follow-up,” he said.

Meanwhile, some experts have urged the government to investigate erring universities and punish specific individuals instead of generalising.

LEADERSHIP Sunday tried to reach out to the acting director of public affairs at the National Universities Commission, Haruna Lawal Aho on whether there are plans by the commission to set up an investigative panel considering how wide spread the racketeering appears to be widespread in Benin and Togo.

Ajo would only say that an enquiry has already been instituted by the federal ministry of education, and nothing else should be expected pending the outcome of that investigation.

He said, “The federal ministry of education made a statement on this issue a few days ago. An enquiry was already instituted.”

The National Youth Service Corp, on its part was reluctant to speak on steps it could take to reduce the opportunity for fake degree holders to register for the youth service.

LEADERSHIP Sunday could not get clarification from the NYSC spokesman, Eddy Megwa, on why Audu was able to register for a second time despite the fact that the use of the National Identification Number, which is unique to all individual citizens, is a requirement for all participants before registration.

A Professor of European Languages and Integration Studies, University of Lagos, Prof. Victor Ariole said suspending accreditation of degrees from Benin and Togo is ill-advised.

According to him, punishing over 15,000 students with the suspension of accreditation of degree certificates is collective punishment since the need to punish only those directly involved.

“There must be a selective process, go into their records, those who are found culpable bring them out and punish them, not because one person did something wrong and you punish everybody because you discovered one University or institution is creating a problem. It is not done, it’s against human rights,” he said.

NYSC Registration Steps For Foreign, Local Students Expounded

Following the release of an undercover report on express degrees awarded by mushroom universities in Cotonou, mixed reactions of shock and outrage have continued to trail across the country.

Although, the National Youth Service Corps, on its website said the data of all prospective corps members as submitted for mobilisation by their respective institutions, are subjected to screening for conformity, the spokesperson of the Scheme, Eddy Megwa did not respond when asked to throw more light on it.

LEADERSHIP Sunday, however, walks through the procedures of National NYSC registration for foreign and local students.

NYSC, which is a mandatory one-year service programme is for all Nigerian graduates of tertiary institutions.

However, graduates who have studied outside Nigeria and are interested in participating in the scheme must follow specific procedures and meet certain requirements, according to the scheme.

Requirements For Registration/Mobilization Of Foreign Students Graduates

On its website, NYSC specified that foreign students must register online on its portal ( during the designated registration period and create an account with their emails and phone number, providing their personal details, and upload scanned copies of the required documents.

Documents to be uploaded are; International passport showing entry visa, departure date, return date, and data page, original degree or HND certificate, complete official transcript of the degree or HND course, O’level certificate (WASC, GCE, SSCE, NECO, IGCE, GCSE, or high school diploma) showing credits in five subjects, including English and mathematics.

Others are evidence of completion of housemanship (for medical doctors and optometrists), evidence of completion of internship (for pharmacists), residence permit for the period of study (for graduates of universities within ECOWAS states and Cameroon).

After successful online registration, foreign students must attend the physical verification exercise at the designated NYSC camp and present the original copies of all uploaded documents for verification.

However, certificates and other credentials not written in English must be translated at the embassy of the country of study or a university in Nigeria where the language is studied before uploading and presentation for verification.

More so, foreign students are not allowed to choose their state of deployment. However, married women may be deployed to states where their husbands reside.

Meanwhile, graduates with dual nationality are required to upload data pages of both International Passports and present the same for verification at the physical verification Centre/Orientation camp (where more than one passports were used during the period of study.

In the event of loss of international passport, a prospective Corps Member is expected to obtain the following: Police and Immigration reports from the country where the Passport got missing, sworn affidavit from the court of law and other evidence of stay in the country of study, and a new International Passport (Personal Data page of the newly obtained International Passport must be uploaded).

For loss of academic credentials, the following are required: Detailed Police report, sworn affidavit from the Court of law, confirmation of result from either the examination body (for loss of O’Level certificates) or the institution of graduation (for loss of degree, HND, Certificates), personal Data page of the newly obtained International Passport must be uploaded

Requirements For Registration/Mobilisation Of Local Graduates

Prospective Corps members should ensure that they have functional e-mail addresses that they can access and Nigerian (GSM) telephone numbers with which to register.

They will use the Email address and password to login to the NYSC portal subsequently.

Locally trained prospective Corps members are expected to use correct Matriculation numbers to register and only those whose names appear in the Senate/Academic Board Approved Result lists submitted by their Institutions will have access to the register on the NYSC portal.

Anybody who presents any fake document will be demobilized and decamped and handed over to law enforcement agencies for prosecution.

They should also remember the fingers used for their biometric capturing as these will be used for verification at the orientation camps.

Those who cannot be verified with their biometric at the orientation camp will not be registered.

However, married female prospective corps members (whether locally or foreign-trained) should upload copies of their marriage Certificates, evidence of Change of name and their husbands’ place of domicile during registration.

The orientation camp is highly not ideal for pregnant and nursing mothers. Prospective corps members in these categories are therefore to note that they will not be accommodated

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