THE RISE ANS RISE OF FAKE CERTIFICATES IN NIGERIA

Jide Ojo

How genuine are those certificates you’re parading? I mean, can those your academic and non-academic credentials pass forensic audit tests? It is heart rending that virtually on weekly basis there are news reports of some very important personalities being busted for using fake academic credentials or other forged documents. The latest was the immediate past Director General of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research. This newspaper in its Sunday, March 1, 2020 reported thus:

“A former acting Director-General of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi, Lagos, Mr ChimaIgwe, may have defrauded government of millions of naira and committed perjury before his recent ouster by the institute’s governing board.Igwe named a university in Benin Republic, Universited’AbomeyCalavi, as where he earned a PhD not long ago.The Anambra State indigene was removed not too long ago after he was indicted in a report by the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission.The ICPC, in the report issued by its spokesperson, RasheedatOkoduwa, said Igwe lived a lie for 18 years by claiming to have a PhD.She noted that he had yet to finish the academic degree based on the agency’s investigations.”

A similar development which this newspaper cracked last year happened at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Awka, Anambra State where a Senior Lecturer, Peter Ekemezie was found to have a fake Master’s Degree and a plagiarised PhD. The PUNCH of October 17, 2019 reported thus:  “While disclaiming Ekemezie’s master’s degree as fake, the UNIZIK management also withdrew the Doctor of Philosophy already awarded him.The university said it found him culpable of plagiarism and working on a full-time in the school and in other institutions simultaneously.These followed a series of investigations by our correspondent on the fraudulent academic records of the Anambra State indigene, which were said to have been covered up for nine years.”

Just last December, Nigerian newspapers are awashed with news of National Universities Commission discovery of over 100 fake professors in Nigeria. According to a December 3, 2019news report by this newspaper, the NUC Executive Secretary, Prof Abubakar Rasheed, stated this in the November edition of the commission’s bulletin.The ES noted that the commission published the details of the fake professors on its website and also sent the names to the various universities for verification. Imagine that! Over hundred fake professors living a lie as academic juggernauts!

In a September 2018 resignation letter of Nigeria’s former Finance Minister, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun while admitting to have been issued fake National Youth Service Corps exemption certificate she said inter alia that “……. with the guidance and assistance of those, I thought were trusted associates, NYSC were approached for documentary proof of status. I then received the certificate in question. Having never worked in NYSC, visited the premises, been privy to nor familiar with their operations, I had no reason to suspect that the certificate was anything but genuine.”

In November 2012, former governor of Kaduna State, Patrick Yakowa claimed that after a verification exercise by the state government over two thousand teachers in public schools were discovered to be parading fake academic credentials. He made this known at the second National Joint Graduation ceremony of the National Teachers’ Institute in Kaduna.

In order to let you esteemed readers know that this ugly phenomenon is very widespread and can be found in every profession, a September 2015 report in Nigerian newspapers revealed that the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria arrested one Nwosu Angela Njide, an alleged fake female doctor with Rauz Hospital, Apo, Abuja.According to reports, Njide who is in her 30’s, had worked as a doctor for years, using forged documents. On interrogation, she had confessed to have worked in different places, including the British American Tobacco clinic, Ibadan, the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital and eventually in RauzHospital, before she was apprehended.

A June 2018 report in the newspapers also revealed the arrest of a fake lawyer. According to The Guardian of June 4, 2018 (online edition) “Detectives in Lagos have exposed a fake lawyer who had been operating at Ojo Magistrate’s Court for three years. Police spokesman, ChikeOti, identified the suspected fake lawyer as Mr. Uche Julian Nwajiakwu.According to him, the arrest of Nwajiakwu by officers at Ojo Division, on May 25, 2018 marks the second time a fake lawyer would be arrested at Ojo Magistrate Court. The first was the arrest of one Chris Elisha, who was nabbed on February 6, 2018, after being in illegal practice for 15 years. He said that Nwajiakwu had been practicing illegally since 2015.”

Recall that in August 2019, OkoiObono-Obla, who was chairman of the Special Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property was sacked by the Federal Government on allegation of forgery of his West African School Certificate as well as corruption. Among our politicians many of them are alleged to be parading fake academic credentials. One outstanding case was that of former House of Representatives Speaker, Salisu Buhari who had to resign from his exalted seat for parading fake academic credentials.

In Lagos, there is place called ‘Oluwole’ which is notorious for forgery. It is believed that at that place, with right amount of money you can get any document forged be it international passport, Driving Licence, Marriage Certificate, Birth Certificate, Certificate of Occupancy and other land title deeds, Tax Clearance Certificates and even counterfeit currency.

The question is, why do people indulge in this fake life? It’s primarily for personal aggrandisement and self-esteem. What many do not know is that forging documents is a corrupt practice and a criminal offence punishable with jail terms. Unfortunately, not many who are involved have been punished beyond just being relieved of their positions which they have used the fake documents to assume. There is therefore the need to ensure that those who have used fake or forged documents to win election, get appointment or promotion are made to face the full wrath of the law. They should be made to refund whatever financial benefits they have enjoyed using those bogus credentials.

Additionally, those who are in the racket of procuring fake and forged documents for people should equally be rounded up by law enforcement agents and prosecuted. These severe measures will serve as deterrent to others who may want to indulge in it in future.  It is high time we find our lost moral compass and desist from this rat race of using hook or crook means to gain undue advantage over others.

Follow me on twitter @jideojong

Copyright PUNCH.

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