The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Education, said on Monday that it had set up a 16-man committee to screen over 40,000 degrees claimed to have been obtained from Nigerian students who studied in foreign institutions.
The Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, who inaugurated the committee in Abuja, said the screening by the committee was necessary to detect cases of fake foreign degrees obtained, particularly from sub-standard institutions in Africa and beyond.
Adamu made the remarks at the 33rd meeting of the National Standard Committee on Evaluation and Accreditation of Foreign Qualifications.
The minister said according to a preliminary assessment by the Ministry of Education, no fewer than 40,000 Nigerians were either holding such certificates or currently studying in various tertiary institutions abroad.
He said degrees from questionable institutions, especially from countries such as Benin Republic, Togo and Cameroon, had already been identified by the ministry.
He said, “There arose the need to assess the quality of foreign qualifications obtained by Nigerians in order to determine the Nigerian equivalence for the purpose of further studies and employment.
“The recommendations that will be given by the committee will prove crucial to the well-being and future of those that acquired the qualifications and foreign certificates.”
Our correspondent learnt that the 16 persons in the committee were drawn from the six geo-political zones of the country.
Meanwhile, the ministry said it had also prosecuted 20 persons for certificate forgery and falsification of signatures of officials of the ministry.
The Director, Education Support Services, Mrs. Justina Ibe, said this at the committee meeting, noting that the suspects had been handed over to the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission.
Ibe said, “From 2015 to 2017, not less than 20 persons have been caught and handed over to the ICPC or the police with respect to forgery of certificates, presentation of fake certificates, forgery of signature of ministry officials, etc, out of which one person has been jailed for seven years.
“The main reason for convening this important meeting is to enable members of the National Standing Committee, which is the highest decision-making body on evaluation of foreign qualifications, to deliberate on issues that would be presented and take appropriate decisions.”