The Nigerian government has announced its intention to suspend its degree accreditation for several different African nations. The move comes after a reporter for the Daily Nigerian, Umar Audu, performed an undercover investigation at a Benin university in which he was able to obtain a 4 year degree, in 6 weeks.
Using the degree, Audu was able to participate in Nigeria’s National Youth Service Corps programme, as the transcript he received from the fraudulent degree, obtained from the Ecole Superieure de Gestion et de Technologies, bore the schools authentic scan code.
Nigeria’s government announced the suspension as a part of their crackdown on fraudulent degrees from what Nigerian Education Minister Tahir Mamman referred to as “degree mills”, in order to “protect Nigerian employers” and “maintain the integrity” of Nigeria’s qualifications.
The Education Minister also stated that charges will be brought against those found to have purchased fraudulent degrees from the degree mills.
“If we can get records of Nigerians who attended those institutions and once we do that they are criminals. There is no time frame for criminality. We will trace them and if we are able to lay our hands on them, certainly security operatives will go after them” – Nigerian Education Minister Tahir Mamman
Initially the accreditation suspension only applied to Togo and Benin (where Audu obtained the fraudulent degree from), however on January 3rd Mamman announced “we are not going to stop at just Benin and Togo. We are going to extend the dragnet to countries like Uganda, Kenya, even Niger here where such institutions have been set up”.
Mamman also said Nigeria is working on investigating degree mills in a number of other countries.
In response to the suspension of Benin’s accreditation, the Committee of Alumni Associations of Benin Universities released a statement condemning the move.
The committee accused the Nigerian of an “injustice”, saying that they are punishing “all universities in Benin Republic and Togo because of the alleged indiscretion of one university”.
They stated that there are a large amount of Nigerians who have sought degrees in Benin, which have brought notable economic benefits to Nigeria. They specifically note that “certificate racketeering” is not a problem unique to Benin, but is “a common phenomenon all over the world, even in advanced countries”.
While the nations and universities affected by Nigeria’s accreditation suspension are likely to raise protest, Nigeria’s Education Minister has made it clear they intend to heavily crack down on the problem of “degree mills”.