Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Another Cheat In The House?

A member of the House of Representatives from Borno State Alhaji Shettima Shehu is involved in certificate scandal allegedly obtained from the University of Maiduguri.

By Anthony Maliki

It started with Salisu Buhari, first Speaker of the House of Representatives at the beginning of this political dispensation in 1999. Buhari, former lawmaker from Kano state claimed that he had attended the University of Toronto in Canada. Also, at the time, he was elected into the house, Buhari was less than the constitutional approved age for aspiring legislator but he claimed to have met the requirement. The lie was blown open less than two months of the inauguration into the House, and Buhari was forced to kiss the canvass. He was tried and convicted for perjury by an Abuja High Court.

After this unfortunate incident, Nigerians thought the lawmakers had learnt a lesson but the reverse is the case. ThankGod Ezeani (Imo State), Agboola Alfred Ajayi (Ondo State) and Njidda Gella Ahmed (Adamawa State) were one time or the other engrossed in certificate forgery.

Ahmed claimed to have attended the University of Abuja from 2001 to 2007, Kaduna Polytechnic in 1978 and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, ATBU, Bauchi in 1999 but there is no trace of his academic record in any of the schools. For Ajayi representing Ilaje Ese-Odo Federal Constituency in Ondo state, Newsworld gathered was accused of hiring a mercenary to write the Senior School Certificate Examination, (SSCE) in June 2004 at the Mobolorunduro High School, Okitipupa.

The latest in the certificate scandals rocking the lower legislative house is that of Alhaji Shettima Shehu. Shehu, representing Kaga, Magumeri and Gubio Federal Constituency of Borno state claimed he obtained a degree from the University of Maiduguri. A source told this magazine that the legislator was suspended indefinitely from the University at the beginning of the 2006/2007 academic session on the allegation of examination malpractice. The university's Examination-Related Misconduct Committee (ERMC) which conducted investigation on the allegation recommended that Shehu be suspended. Surprisingly, the lawmaker said he has a third class degree in Business Management purportedly approved at the 236th senate of the university on 16th May, 2008.

Newsworld gathered that the lawmaker with identification number 03/5829 was in the list of those found wanting for various examination problems and published in the university bulletin of August, 2007. In the list, 56 students were indefinitely suspended, 11 suspended for various semesters, three cleared, while two were to resume studies.

Following the problem, the department of Business Management, University of Maiduguri prayed the university senate to approve the withdrawal of the candidate's degree as it was confirmed that he is on an indefinite suspension. This was accepted at senate's 239th meeting held on 28th August 2008. The senate also constituted a committee to probe the matter. The committee has Professor Abdulhamid Abubakar as chairman. The members are Professor Abubakar Kibon, Professor Isa Hayatu Chiroma, Dr. Abubakar Fari and Dr. Sule. The committee is to investigate the direct and remote circumstances that led to the illegal graduation of Shettima Shehu, identify persons or group of persons involved and recommend appropriate disciplinary action and how to avoid future occurrence.

Newsworld investigation revealed that the university community is worried about the situation and a body known as “Concerned Members Forum” had written to the acting Vice Chancellor, Professor M.M. Daura condemning the development. In a letter dated 27th August, 2008, the forum pointed out that “it is a clear indication that the University of Maiduguri is once again being presented in bad light all over the world and therefore being made to face rounds of national and international embarrassment.” The body indicted the registrar, Dr. Lawan Bukar Alhaji for such problems, saying that “for any person to undeservedly lay hold on the statement of result, certificate or transcript of the university, IT must, no doubt be with the registrar's consent or connivance.”

Besides, the body, whose letter was titled, “Continual erosion of the integrity of Degrees Award by the University of Maiduguri: A grand call for sincere soul searching,” urged the acting Vice Chancellor to investigate the matter to its logical conclusion and those found guilty should be brought to book.

This magazine learnt that the registrar, Dr. Alhaji was in the past probed by a ministerial committee for an alleged certificate racketeering and was recommended to be deployed to another department but the university council then ignored the directives. This situation led to a friction between the former Vice Chancellor, Professor Jibrin D. Amin and members of the council who were allegedly defending the registrar. Professor Amin has since completed his two-term tenure in May this year and has taken up employment with the National Universities Commission, NUC.

At the House of Representatives last week, Shehu could not be reached in his office for comments on the matter.

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