As NUC clamps down on illegal varsities

In a move to eliminate certificate racketeering and restore academic excellence in Nigeria, the National Universities Commission (NUC), in collaboration with the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), said it has put measures in place to block fake foreign trained graduates coming into the country from partaking in the compulsory one year national service.

The NUC said it would continue to ensure the credibility of certificates being issued by Nigerian universities and block the increasing number of fake foreign trained graduates coming into the country.

NUC Executive Secretary, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed, stated these when the Director-General of the NYSC, Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim, visited him at the headquarters of the commission in Abuja.

Rasheed, in a statement by the NYSC Director of Press and Public Relations, Adenike Adeyemi, penultimate Tuesday in Abuja, lamented the challenges in vetting the certificates obtained from universities established by Nigerians outside the country.

He said many universities produce quality graduates while some produce graduates that cannot defend their certificates. Rasheed said the commission has not approved the degrees of some online universities operating in the country.

He added that the commission has approached the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offenses Commission (ICPC) to shut down some illegal universities operating in Nigeria.

“NUC and NYSC must work together to help the country in producing quality graduates and NUC will continue to certify the credibility of certificates obtained from Nigerian universities,” the NUC chief said.

Brigadier General Shuaibu Ibrahim said NYSC would not issue its certificate of national service to unqualified graduates but appealed for stakeholders’ support in its determination towards seamless and credible mobilisation process.

The NYSC DG had condemned some unnamed universities in Benin Republic for allegedly presenting unqualified persons for mobilisation, adding that the corps has commenced investigations into the activities of such universities.

Ibrahim said, “It is unfortunate that some institutions of higher learning, particularly in Cotonou, Benin Republic, present to us people who didn’t go through the four walls of the university as graduates for NYSC mobilisation. We are presently investigating some of such so-called graduates, many of whom cannot write or spell any word in English.”

He also revealed that the EFCC has pledged to support the NYSC in combating fraudulent mobilisation of unqualified graduates for national service. The EFCC had reportedly commended corps members for educating Nigerians on the dangers of corruption through the Anti-corruption Community Development Service Groups.

It is instructive that the NUC was on January 28, 2019, mandated by the federal government to work with the security agencies to arrest and prosecute the proprietors of 66 unlicensed universities in the country.

The former Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, had given the directive at a press conference in Abuja. Adamu put the figure of unlicensed universities at 66, while unlicensed polytechnics, mono-technics and colleges of education stood at 68.

“I direct all regulatory agencies in the public education sector, namely; the National Universities Commission, the National Commission for Colleges of Education and the National Board for Technical Education, to work with relevant security agencies to immediately crack down hard on all illegal tertiary institutions.

“Promoters of such institutions should be apprehended and prosecuted. Let me warn that the days of treating those institutions with kid gloves are over. The phenomenon of illegal providers of tertiary education is more notorious in the university sub-sector than the polytechnic sub-sector.

“To this end, 66 illegal degree mills have been identified by the NUC. It is also crucial to state that while some of these providers are operating illegal institutions based in Nigeria, some are online in unapproved linkages and affiliations with substandard foreign institutions that have no accreditation or recognition of regulatory bodies either in Nigeria or their home countries,” Adamu said.

Consequently, the commission on April 8 published the names of nine universities in its weekly bulletin, which are being investigated and undergoing court actions along with their proprietors. The illegal universities were situated in Nasarawa, Enugu, Abia, Edo, Ekiti and Benue states.

The NUC bulletin partly reads, “In addition to the closure, the following degree mills are currently undergoing further investigations or court actions. The purpose of these actions is to prosecute the proprietors and recover illegal fees and charges on subscribers.

“They are National University of Nigeria, Keffi, Nasarawa State; North Central University, Otukpo, Benue State; Christ Alive Christian Seminary and University, Enugu State; Richmond Open University, Arochukwu, Abia State; West Coast University, Umuahia; Saint Clements University, Iyin Ekiti, Ekiti State; Volta University College, Aba, Abia State; illegal satellite campuses of Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma; and Life Leadership University, Benin, Edo State.”

We commend the collaborative efforts of the NUC, NYSC, EFCC and the ICPC towards sanitising the nation’s academic environment, particularly certificate racketeering and mushroom universities who churn out half-baked or poorly trained graduates that largely constitute the bane of Nigeria’s development. It is pertinent to call for more punitive measures against perpetrators of this heinous crime which has wreaked incalculable havoc on the credibility of the nation’s education system.

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