Certificate fraud: Fate of over 15, 000 Nigerian students in Benin, Togo uncertain – NANS

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President of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) in Benin Republic, Mr Okechukwu Favour said there is uncertainty about the fate of more than 15,000 Nigerian students studying in Benin Republic following the federal suspension of recognition and accreditation of degree certificates from universities in that country and Togo.

The sanction on certificates from Beninese universities was announced in the wake of a report by a Nigerian undercover reporter, Mr Audu Umar that he was able to get a degree from a university in Benin Republic within six weeks and was even mobilised for the mandatory one-year National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) scheme.

Audu, who reached out to the syndicate that specialises in selling degree certificates 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, Cotonou, Benin Republic.

Favour who reacted to the expose in an interview on Channels TV programme yesterday appealed to the federal government to temper justice with mercy in its blanket ban on certificates and degrees from higher institutions in Benin Republic.

He contended that ban will affect legitimate students who are at various levels of their studies at Beninese universities.

“We have over 15,000 Nigerians studying in that country alone. We are not saying the government should not punish anybody who has engaged in criminal acts, but it is not in all the universities that such a thing is happening. Also, it is not all the students that are involved in such terrible acts. Our appeal is that let the guilty ones be punished, spare the innocent,” he said.

Favour agreed that the undercover reporter has helped to expose some misdeeds but called for the arrest of the reporter who, according to him breached certain conventions.

“Your passport was stamped while you were not available there. Now, and that aside, this guy served in 2019. And he still served again in 2023,” he said.

Favour claimed the reporter was implicating the government and questioning the credibility of agencies like the Immigration and National Youth Service Corps by going undercover.

“He has to be arrested. This guy needs to be arrested because, I know, he’s a reporter who is trying to clear out some things but on that note, you are trying to implicate some persons now because, in a sense, you’re trying to implicate the government, the NYSC and the immigration,” he said.

Meanwhile, the president of the NANS in Togo, Mr Muhammad Ibrahim, said there were between 800 and 900 Nigerian students studying in Togo.

“We have about 800 to 900 Nigerian students studying in Togo. I have communicated with my colleagues in Benin and we had several meetings yesterday regarding the issue. We held a meeting with the special assistant on student affairs to the president, Comrade Sunday Ashefon, and also the secretary to the minister of education and the president of NANS in the diaspora. We are planning to have a press conference when we come back to Nigeria,” he said.