The Nigerian government has announced the suspension of evaluation and accreditation of degree certificates from Benin Republic and Togo.
The directive was contained in a statement issued on Tuesday, January 2, 2023, and signed by Augustina Obilor-Duru on behalf of the Director Press and Public Relations, Federal Ministry of Education.
The government lamented that “some Nigerians deploy nefarious means and unconscionable methods to get a Degree with the end objective of getting graduate job opportunities for which they are not qualified”.
According to the government, the suspension persists pending the outcome of an investigation involving the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Education of Nigeria and the two countries as well as the Department of State Security Services (DSS), and the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC).
This comes after d an investigative report by Daily Nigerian Newspaper titled “UNDERCOVER: How DAILY NIGERIAN reporter bagged Cotonou varsity degree in 6 weeks”.
In the report, a Nigerian, Umar Audu bagged a Cotonou varsity degree in 6 weeks, and subsequently participated in the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme.
Audu, who reached out to a racketeering syndicate that specialises in selling the infamous degree certificates from the neighboring countries to willing buyers at an ‘affordable rate,’ in December 2022, graduated in February 2023 and was issued a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication certificate from the Ecole Superieure de Gestion et de Technologies, ESGT, Cotonou, Benin Republic.
Audu, who isa an undercover reporter for Daily Nigerian Newspaper said the agent gave him the option of “studying” for a year or month, but he opted for the month option.
“That’s not a problem; we can help. If the money is ready, we can help you out. We have done it for a lot of people. If you make the payment now, the results will be ready next month,” the agent was quoted to have assured.
According to Audu, the choice of mass communication from any “university” in Cotonou was premised on the fact that he could easily scale through the screening as he had knowledge of the course.
The agent gave the reporter the breakdown of the amount to pay, which included tuition fees, an evaluation letter, a resident permit, immigration stamps at the border post and transportation.
On December 27, 2022, the reporter made the payment and was issued a payment receipt.
True to the agent’s words, the certificate and transcript of Ecole Superieure de Gestion et de Technologies, ESGT, Cotonou, Benin Republic, were delivered to his office on February 17, 2023.
The transcript indicated that this reporter commenced the institution in 2018 and graduated on September 5, 2022.
Unfortunately, there was a slight mistake on the transcript, so it had to be transported back to Cotonou for correction, and one month later, the corrected version was received on March 29.
Prior to that, the reporter was never issued an admission letter or knew about the school the agent was processing for him.
All the agenct said was, “don’t worry, everything will be sorted out.”
Like miracle, our reporter “finished” the four-year degree programme in less than two months without application, registration, studying, writing exams or crossing Nigerian border.
It was further gathered that despite having the certificate and transcript in his possession, the reporter had fears they could be fake, until he discovered a scan code placed on the left bottom of the transcript. When he scanned through, it directed him to the website of ESGT University, indicating that he is a genuine product of the institution.
On its website, ESGT, established in 2009, said, “It is an institution built upon a vision that enables individuals from a mix of different nationalities and cultures to get the best in undergraduate and postgraduate international education.”.
The institution is fully accredited by both the governments of the Benin Republic and Nigeria. It offers over 30 courses in management sciences, social sciences, applied and natural sciences as well as technology.
It was gathered that the racketeering agents in Nigeria work hand-in-hand with the top management of the university campus in Cotonou, whose registrar and English section coordinator are Nigerians.
After payment of additional money through the agent, the evaluation letter was eventually released. The letter is a mandatory requirement for NYSC mobilisation.
In separate letters dated May 25 and 26, addressed to the director general of the National Youth Service Scheme, NYSC, the Federal Ministry of Education confirmed that the ESGT is on the ministry’s list of accredited institutions.
The letter, which was signed on behalf of the minister by the deputy director of Evaluation and Accreditation, Koli Salihu-Mongodiba, also cleared 51 ESGT graduates to participate in the NYSC, “having met all the requirements set by the ministry”.
“The institution is on the ministry’s list of accredited institutions in Benin, and the bachelor degrees awarded to the students as indicated on the attached list are equivalent to bachelor degrees awarded by any Nigerian university in a similar field of study,” the letter read in part.