By Okechukwu Keshi Ukegbu
Few days ago both the online and mainstream media were awash with an alleged certificate racketeering in Abia State Polytechnic, Aba. The issue in contention, according to one of the reports, is a National Diploma statement of result issued to one Gregory Okwuchukwu Okoafor.The reports noted that “an Umuahia-based lawyer, Okey Amechi, SAN, has petitioned the Rector of the institution, Prof. Kalu Osonwa, to question how a student, Gregory Okwuchukwu Okafor obtained his Ordinary National Diploma (OND), result from the institution. Abia State Polytechnic Aba.In a similar move, a human rights organization, Centre for Reform and Public Advocacy (CRPA), has also written the polytechnic, over the same issue demanding answers about possible certificate racketeering”.
While some of the reports allege forgery, which may be issue of contextual application and semantics, basically what the petitioners questioned were the circumstances by which the qualification was awarded. One issue that should be addressed properly here is that academic institutions have their peculiar operations and at no point should external elements interfere with the peculiar operations of an institution. This aptly captured by a response credited by the institution’s Registrar, Mr. Chinyere Oriaku thusly”Oriaku admitted that there have been many inquiries about the matter which the school had answered and supplied the necessary pieces of evidence to prove that the allegation of certificate racketeering is false. “I can tell you that those things are false allegations being peddled by those who don’t know the operations of the institution. All documents necessary for clarification on the matter are with us and we’re ready to make them available. But I can categorically tell you that those allegations are false”.
On the other hand, it is a standard practice that it is issuing authority that determines the authenticity of a document issued by them which is controverted by any reason. And the Polytechnic is insisting that it has available records to authentic the statement of result issued to Chief Okoafor. Therefore, the onus lies on the issuing authority, Abia State Polytechnic, Aba to prove the authenticity or otherwise of the statement of result in question. The Senator Dino Melaye’s case supports this.When the Senator Dino Mekaye’s certificate scandal raged, it took the intervention of the Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, ABU, Zaria, Professor Ibrahim Garba who confirmed that Dino Melaye who bears Daniel Jonah Melaye as that time actually graduated from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria with third class in Geography in the year, 2000. The appeal here is why not the disputing parties shield their sword now that the institution has strongly assured that it has every document to back up the authenticity of the statement of result. A further push on the matter would leave one with no other option than to interpret it along vested interest. I don’t that this is the best time for such scandal as grave as certificate racketeering, considering the current state of institution.
Allegations as heavy as certificate racketeering is not palatable with an institution. And Abia State Polytechnic in its years of existence have not in any point been associated with this vice. No institution or family takes this allegation light.
Responding to an article titled Nigerian Politicians And The Pestilence Of Forged, Missing Certificates, which linked late and former Senate President, Akweke Nwafor Orizu to some forgery allegations, the family noted thusly “The attention of the family of Dr. Abyssinia Akwaeke Nwafor Orizu have been drawn to the above article written by Festus Adedayo on Sunday 3rd of July 2022. We wish to express our shock and dismay on how the name of our father; Dr. Akwaeke Nwafor Orizu, a former Nigerian Senate President and a one time acting president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was audaciously listed among high ranking politicians that have paraded fake degree certificates and titles in the past.
“This is a grave injustice in lieu of the fact that the article was about high profile Nigerian politicians with dubious certificates. Our father who was never found guilty of falsifying his academic qualifications, in fact his academic qualifications are public knowledge up till this day, to our chagrin was viciously brought into the picture. The reason for including our father’s name in this kind of piece is surprising to us as a family.
“1937. He passed the junior Cambridge Exam through private studies.
“1939, January 28. He left Nigeria for the USA to become the 14th West African, 10th Nigerian and 8th Igbo man to go to the USA for studies. Registered with Lincoln University Pennsylvania USA.
“In 1940. He left for Lincoln to Ohio State University where he obtained a BA degree in Political Science and Pre-Law.
“In 1944. He enrolled in the Graduate School of Columbia University in New York City from where he obtained a master’s degree in Public Law and Government.
“1948, May 27. He was awarded a doctorate degree of Law (LLD) by Lane University Jackson Tennessee for what they called his trenchant presentation of the African point of view in his book, ‘Without Bitterness’ and his educational mission in Africa.
“These schools are there for verification which of the certification did he forge to warrant listing him in this group. For the same reason, a University in America honoured him, and the British Colonial Government imprisoned him”.
In a nutshell, this grave allegation should not be taken lightly Abia State Polytechnic, Aba, considering its already battered image.