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FG sets up panel to probe private, foreign varsities

FG debunks viral list of national honours nominees

The Federal Government has inaugurated an eight-man inter-ministerial committee to investigate the activities of private universities established in the last 15 years.

The committee, headed by Professor J.D. Amin as chairman, is also mandated to probe degree certificate racketeering by both foreign and local universities in Nigeria.

The Minister of Education, Professor Tahir Mamman, SAN, who inaugurated the inter-ministerial committee on degree mills in the country on Tuesday in Abuja, said this would help sanitise the system and protect the integrity of educational qualifications in Nigeria.

Mamman also vowed that all workers who had acquired fake certificates from both local and foreign institutions, as would be unravelled by the panel, would be sacked and made to face the wrath of the law.

Recall that the issue of ‘degree mills’ once again came to the fore following an investigative report by an undercover journalist, Umar Audu, with an online newspaper, detailing how he obtained a degree within six weeks and even proceeded to embark on the mandatory one-year national youth service under the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme.

He noted that the committee would help identify some of the private universities in the country after getting licences as a means of operating outside the law so that the force of the law could be brought on them.

“The next step will be if the committee can uncover those institutions and those who participated because I won’t say they are victims or graduates; we will chase them out of the system because they are not qualified to work in the system, and we will make them face the wrath of the law,” he said.

The Minister said the assignment was a very serious one and tasked members of the committee to do their job diligently without fear of anyone, saying the ministry was solidly behind them. He added that the exercise was not to witch-hunt anyone.

The committee, which has Professor J.D. Amin, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees (BOT) Committee of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities, has Mr. Chris Maiyaki, the acting Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), as a member.

Other members of the committee are Amb. Lazarus Kpasaba from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Abel Olarenwaju, Office of the National Security Advisor; Omeh Nwokpoku, Office of the National Security Advisor; Amina Lugga, Federal Ministry of Youth and Development; Mrs. Doom Iyortyom, Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board (JAMB); and a representative from the Federal Ministry of Justice.

According to the terms of reference read to the members of the inter-ministerial committee, Mamman urged them to look into the activities of illegal universities and examine the veracity of the allegations of degree certificate racketeering within both foreign and local private universities in Nigeria.

They were also mandated to “Review the role of any MDA or its officials (including identifying such officials) in the facilitation of the recognition and procurement of the fake certificate in question.

“Review existing policies and procedures related to accreditation and certification to identify weaknesses contributing to the issue; examine the rules, procedures, and processes for recognition and accreditation of foreign universities and programmes by the Federal Ministry of Education.

“Establish if unapproved foreign institutions (Degree Mills) exist or not in Nigeria in whatever form, with their identities and locations if any;

“Make appropriate recommendations for review of any rules, procedures, and processes to prevent re-occurrence and sanctions for identified erring officials;

“Make other recommendations that will strengthen the system of recognitions, accreditations, and quality assurance of degrees in Nigeria.

“Examine the extant rules, procedures, and processes for granting provisional licences to new universities by the National Universities Commission.

“Examine the procedures and processes for periodic accreditation of programmes in the universities by the NUC and examine their effectiveness in quality assurance of the programmes;

“Without prejudice to the periodic accreditation exercise of the NUC, examine whether or not private universities established in the last 15 years have in place prescribed facilities, an appropriate management structure, adequate funding of programmes, and requisite staff (nature of staff: full-time, contract, adjunct, visiting, other types).”

He noted that it was a good thing that Nigerians are all over the world seeking foreign qualifications, noting, however, that the certification must be of quality and meet global standards.

He added that to address the challenge of access in Nigeria, the Federal Government has, since 2009, approved over 146 private universities in addition to federal and state universities to cater for the teeming population seeking university education.

“This is a very big number that will help provide access to our teeming citizens who want to have university education, apart from polytechnics, colleges of education, and other tertiary institutions,” he said
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EFCC investigates more celebrities for naira abuse

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has said it is investigating several celebrities suspected of abusing the Naira.

This was revealed in a statement signed by EFCC spokesperson, Dele Oyewale, on Sunday.

“On the issue of the works of the Commission against Naira abuse, dollarization of the economy and the enforcement of all extant laws relating to them, the EFCC appreciates the avalanche of public awakening, support and involvement demonstrated so far.

“Increasingly, members of the public are drawing the attention of the Commission to video recording of abuse of the Naira by Nigerians from all walks of life.

“These gestures amply demonstrate rising consciousness of the public to the sanctity of our national currency and the need for collaborative engagement to sustain the tempo.

“To this end, the Commission will always investigate and prosecute anyone involved in the abuse of the Naira.

“Old videos being exhumed and flying around for the attention of the Commission are noted as the Commission is sensitive to the fact that its Special Task Force against Naira Abuse and Dollarization of the economy commenced operations on February 7, 2024. However, going forward, new videos of such infractions will be investigated and prosecuted.

“At the moment, the Commission is investigating several celebrities involved in Naira abuse. Many of them have made useful statements to the Commission and many more have been invited by investigators working on the matter.

“The EFCC will not relent in its no-sacred-cow mode of operations and the public should be wary of running afoul of laws against the crime.”

Recall that popular cross-dresser Idris Okuneye aka Bobrisky was sentenced to six months imprisonment for abusing the Naira.

Justice Abimbola Awogboro handed down the sentence without an option of fine.

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No one has been cleared in humanitarian ministry fraud investigation- EFCC

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, says it has not cleared anyone involved in the ongoing fraud investigation in the humanitarian affairs ministry.

Spokesperson of the commission, Dele Oyewale stated this in a statement tagged ‘Setting the Records Straight on Investigations of Humanitarian Ministry’ on Sunday.

According to him,  ongoing investigation have opened other fraudulent dealings involving Covid -19 funds, the World Bank loan, Abacha recovered loot released to the Ministry by the Federal Government to execute its poverty alleviation mandate.

The statement read;

“The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has noticed the rising tide of commentaries, opinions, assumptions and insinuations concerning its progressive investigations into the alleged financial misappropriation in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

“At the outset of investigations, past and suspended officials of the Humanitarian Ministry were invited by the Commission and investigations into the alleged fraud involving them have yielded the recovery of N32.7billion and $445,000 so far.

“Discreet investigations by the EFCC have opened other fraudulent dealings involving Covid -19 funds, the World Bank loan, Abacha recovered loot released to the Ministry by the Federal Government to execute its poverty alleviation mandate.

“Investigations have also linked several interdicted and suspended officials of the Ministry to the alleged financial malfeasance.

“It is instructive to stress that the Commission’s investigations are not about individuals. The EFCC is investigating a system and intricate web of fraudulent practices.

“Banks involved in the alleged fraud are being investigated. Managing Directors of the indicted banks have made useful statements to investigators digging into the infractions.

“Those found wanting will be prosecuted accordingly. Additionally, the EFCC has not cleared anyone allegedly involved in the fraud. Investigations are ongoing and advancing steadily.

“The public is enjoined to ignore any claim to the contrary.”

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Junior Pope: NSIB launches investigation, sends team to accident site

The Nigeria Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) has launched an investigation into the boat accident that claimed the lives of Nollywood actor, Paul Odonwodo, popularly known as Junior Pope; Abigail Frederick; Precious Oforum, and Joseph Anointing, while returning from a movie location.

THN reported that the boat accident involved a commercial speedboat and a fishing canoe on the Anam River in Anambra State on Wednesday, April 10, 2024.

The boat carrying 12 film crew members and a boat operator reportedly crashed into the canoe, resulting in the loss of five lives.

Tthe director, Public Affairs and Consumer Protection, NSIB, Bimbo Oladeji in a statement on Sundat, said the Bureau has dispatched an investigation team to the accident site.

According to Oladeji, examination of the wreckage from both boats involved in the collision, interviews with surviving crew members, eyewitnesses, and a review of operational procedures for the commercial speed boat would be analysed, among others.

“The NSIB extends its deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives in this heartbreaking accident.

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“Also, the director general of NSIB, Capt. Alex Badeh Jr, share in your grief and NSIB is fully committed to conducting a thorough investigation to determine the cause of this tragedy and prevent similar occurrence in the future.

“An investigation team has been dispatched to the accident site, and inquiry has begun. The investigation scope includes, but is not limited to: examination of the wreckage from both vessels involved in the collision, interviews with surviving crew members, and eyewitnesses, review of operational procedures for the commercial speed boat, analysis of weather and environmental conditions at the time of the accident, and assessment of compliance with relevant safety standards and regulations for inland waterway transportation,” NSIB spokesperson said.

Oladeji further assured Nigerians that the Bureau will release the preliminary reports of the investigation to the public.

“NSIB will collaborate with relevant authorities, including the Marine Police section of the Anambra State Police Command, maritime authorities, and industry experts during the investigation.

“The bureau will release its findings in a preliminary report, followed by a final report upon the investigation’s conclusion. These reports aim to enhance safety by providing recommendations to prevent similar accidents in the future.Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of the victims affected by the Anam boat mishap,” she added.

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