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How shops, rented rooms served as ‘universities’

The raid by a task force on illegal satellite campuses of universities in the Federal Capital Territory showed how Nigerians are duped in their quest…

The raid by a task force on illegal satellite campuses of universities in the Federal Capital Territory showed how Nigerians are duped in their quest to have university certificates. The task force consists of officials of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), National Universities Commission (NUC) and armed policemen, as well as journalists who were called upon to witness the event.
One of such places is a duplex building with three bedrooms at Garki in Abuja. A blue car parked in the premises without registration number, had boldly written on it  Abuja-British School.
A gateman in the premises told the task force team that those operating the illegal university campus had moved to an unknown place. No arrest was made and the squad moved to EPAP Plaza, on Kola Street, off Gimbiya Street in Abuja.
The team climbed to the second floor of the four-storey plaza and entered into a shop, where they met a young man in his mid 20s working on a laptop.
The ICPC investigators became suspicious of the place and inquired from the youth where the other door in the place led to and was told it was a rest room.
The youth, who gave his name as Richard A Ajasha denied that operating no any illegal university in the place.
“We are into magazine and organizing seminars,” he told Weekly Trust, showing an edition of the magazine they produced titled  Diamond Education.
The task force faulted Ajasha’s statement when the members found a thesis allegedly written by a student and submitted to the School of Post-Graduate Studies of Imo State University for the award of Masters in Public Administration.
The project dated September 2012, had the title “Effective Road Traffic Administration in Nigeria, (a case study of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Traffic Services”.
After the discovery, intensive searches were conducted in the place and a bunch of exam answer booklets with Imo State University, Owerri written on them.
Other documents discovered were one of the university’s certificate signed by J.U. Osuagwu Deputy Registrar ESR for Registrar, and a letter written by one of the school’s students asking for her result’s transcript to be forwarded to her office.
The letter dated May 4, 2013, stated thus: “Sir, I came in respect of my result, which you promised it will be out before now. Please sir, my office has almost completed the conversion exercises, which is ongoing; should I submit mine to be converted. My registration number is 07/PGD/04/2309.”
The task force members also found a list containing names of lecturers in the school and their assigned courses which included Introduction to Mass Communications, Introduction to African Politics, and Introduction to Criminology, among others.
The shop was sealed, the youth arrested and his cell phones seized but with a promise to give him back.
The squad stormed the   premises of the Concept College London on No 100 Citec Villa Junction, Gwarinpa, which is a rented three-bedroom bungalow and found nobody. However, while the team was leaving the place, some people entered the premises and said they were observing the house for possible rent.
From there, they went to another institution that called it  Imo State University, illegal Study & Degree-Awarding Centere”. The school was operating inside the Garki Primary School, behind UTC, Area 10.
The headmistress of the primary was overheard telling the task force members that she only met the arrangement between the university and the primary school on ground and urged them to see her predecessor who was on ground when the agreement was sealed.
Another female teacher in the school said the authorities there only received a directive from the board to do so. “As teachers, we have no right to see the content of the letter because it was not directed to us,” she said.
Prof. Olu Aina, Chairman ICPC/NUC task force, said the supposed illegal universities were closed down because they were established in defiant of the law which states that any application for the establishment of a university must be done through the National Universities Commission.
“These unaccredited institutions, apart from extorting huge sums of money from unsuspecting Nigerians, are manned by unqualified personnel and operate in makeshift structures and poor environment that cannot qualify our youths for both learning and character as well as for the award of recognized university degrees. In addition, students of these institutions are neither admitted through JAMB nor are they qualified or considered for the NYSC,” he added.
A university lecturer blamed the problems facing the educational sector, especially tertiary institutions for the emergence of illegal universities.
He said public universities, including federal and state-owned, do not have the capacity to enroll all students who qualify for university admission after sitting for the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board examination.
He said Nigerians consider university education as the only highest education, while polytechnics and colleges of education are seen as a last resort after failing to gain admission into a university. The lecturer also blamed incessant industrial actions in the universities, strikes that distorted academic calendars for a long time, as cause why such fraudsters float such illegal degree mills.
According to him, it is a shame that such degree mills thrive while there is the NUC to regulate and supervise university education in the country.
He said those behind such mills are obviously people who are out to make money, as students who patronize such schools are desperate for admission.
Spokesman of the ICPC, Mike Sowe, put the number of illegal universities clamped upon as 41, but the actual number of such universities existing was put at 60.
While giving a breakdown of the figure,  NUC’s Deputy Director (Legal), Moses O. Awe, said Lagos State had 11 universities operating illegally, followed by the FCT, which had six and Enugu State with five.

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