A month after the withdrawal of its accreditation by the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) over non-payment of over 30 months salary arrears; the Abia State Polytechnic, Aba, has attracted another negative publicity.
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC is investigating the award of a National Diploma to one Okafor Gregory Okwuchukwu, who was admitted during the 2018/2019 session into the Department of Business Administration and Management of the Polytechnic.
Abia state polytechnic has always been in the news for the wrong reasons. It has been a trajectory of one bad news to the other. Those who wonder why the Abia State Polytechnic, Aba, had continued to attract negative publicity need not investigate further.
The Aba based institution awarded a National Diploma to one Okafor Gregory without satisfying the conditions on which such awards are made by the institution.
After he was granted admission, Okafor with registration number 2018NDE/04397/BA and his classmates commenced studies in 2019. In view of the Covid -19 pandemic and its resultant impact on the school system worldwide, academic activities were halted for a greater part of the year, 2020. As at December 2021, Abia State Polytechnic was yet to graduate students of the 2018/2019 session. Most of the students were yet to conclude their industrial training (IT) and their final results were still being awaited. The lecturers were yet to submit the results to the examinations and records department for processing
However, on August 1, 2020, the Polytechnic ‘graduated’ Okafor Gregory Onuchukwu and awarded him a National Diploma in Business Administration and Management at lower level, CPGA 2.99. Okafor obviously in a desperate bid to procure an academic qualification to contest for the presidency of Aba Sports Club 1926, an office with a minimum academic requirement of National Diploma, is believed to have colluded with the Registrar of the Polytechnic, Mr. Oriaku Chinyere, to achieve his aim.
The election for the presidency of the Aba Sports Club 1926, held on December 1, 2021, despite protests by members of the Club who knew that Okafor had no certificate and was not qualified to stand for the election. There were protests from many members of the Aba Sports Club calling for the disqualification of Okafor whom they knew to have never graduated from the Abia State Polytechnic.
Between the second week of November and last day of November 2021, Okafor is believed to have gotten the Registrar of the Polytechnic, Mr. Oriaku Chinyer to maintain correspondences with the General Secretary of the Club, Mr. Darlington Nwokolo, pledging in an attestation letter that Okafor was still a student whose result was being processed.
The attestation letter was rejected by the Trustees of Aba Sports Club 1926 as an alternative to certificate. As a last resort to unduly aid Okafor to actualize his political ambition, the Registrar obviously coordinated a massive racket among some lecturers of the Department of Business Administration and Management to manufacture results for Okafor. It didn’t take long for results to be manufactured for Okafor by the Polytechnic and the results included courses in which Okafor failed.
Inside sources at the Examination and Records department of the Polytechnic hinted that the Diploma statement of result, dated November 30, 2021, was manufactured within 48 hours and issued to Okafor by the Registrar. An indication that the Registrar had some fears of dire consequences if the racket was uncovered is that he chose not to append his name and signature on the statement of result. He rather issued the statement of result with the letter-head paper of his immediate predecessor, Chief Mrs C.A. Nwabughiogu, who had left office two months earlier and got one Ogbuji Peace Ebere to append her signature. The statement of result issued on November 30, 2021, signed by one Ogbuji Peace Ebere, still bears the letter-head paper of the retired Registrar of the Polytechnic, Chief Mrs. C.A. Nwabughiogu. The attestation letter sent to the management of Aba Sports Club, dated November 30, 2021, signed by the same Ogbuji Peace Ebere bears the letter-head paper of the current Registrar, Mr. Oriaku Chinyere C. The development led some people to wonder whether the Abia State Polytechnic has two Registrars as at November 30, 2021.
Still others have asked: Why was the Diploma statement of result signed on the same date, November 30, 2021 by two Registrars; Chief Mrs C.A. Nwabughiogu and Mr. Oriaku Chinyere C, when the former had retired from the Polytechnic? The issuance of the letter of attestation and statement of result on the same November 30, 2021 by two different Registrars point to an academic fraud because the polytechnic could not have had two Registrars on the date.
Again, the award of National Diploma in the Nigerian educational calendar involved two academic sessions and a year Industrial Training. From the August 2020 date of the award of the National Diploma, it is that Okafor was awarded the National Diploma when his classmates were undergoing Industrial Training. In view of Covid-19, Okafor never spent two full academic sessions to deserve such award of Diploma.
There are several other manifest inconsistencies on the attestation letter and Diploma statement of result issued to Okafor. The cover letter attached to the statement of result was signed by Ogbuji Peace Ebere under the letter-head paper of the current Registrar, Mr. Oriaku. Other documents were also signed by him as well as correspondences he made with the Aba Sports Club 1926, memos and letters from his office.
However, it is pertinent to ask why the Registrar hurriedly chose to issue a statement of result with the letter-head paper of his predecessor even when the date on the document implicates him as the issuer? Why will the result of a particular student be singled out, processed overnight and a Diploma awarded when all other students were still undergoing Industrial Training (IT) which is a requisite condition for the award of Diploma by Abia State Polytechnic and similar institutions? Which of the Registrars instructed Ogbuji Peace Ebere to sign the two documents, attestation letter and Statement of result on November 30, 2021? Was it the retired Registrar whose name appears on the statement of result but had left office 2 months earlier or the current Registrar who had assumed office as at November 30, 2021 when the attestation letter and statement of result were issued? Does this not call for an urgent review of the processes of issuing certificates in the institution and even the certificates awarded by the Abia State Polytechnic? What is the fate of the labour market and our society if brazen desecration of academic processes is allowed to fester as done in this instance by the Abia State Polytechnic?
It is worrisome how Aba Sports Club 1926 whose membership cuts across captains of industries, professors, SANs, medical doctors, engineers, and other highly educated professionals from all walks of life could allow an unqualified person like Okafor to assume her presidential position in this digital age. This is a huge aberration and embarrassment on the prestigious club.
The obvious fraud has gotten the attention of some well meaning groups in the society. An NGO, the Centre for Reform and Advocacy, in an inquiry had written to the Rector, Abia State Polytechnic, titled; Application under the Freedom of Information Act for confirmation of academic documents of Okafor Gregory Okwuchukwu with a statement of result issued by the Polytechnic on November 30, 2021.
The National Board for Technical Education (NBTE), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Inspector General of Police had also been petitioned to investigate this case of academic fraud.
This is one apparent academic fraud that should not be allowed to stand, otherwise certificates earned by graduates of the Abia State Polytechnic, Aba, may worth nothing in the near future.