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Degree For Sale: Sting Operation Exposes Lagos University Certificate Racketeering, Workers Charging Up To N3Million Per Buyer

When Lagos State University (LASU), Ojo, was established in 1983, it was envisioned to pursue the advancement of learning and academic excellence.

Degree available for N2 million - N3 million 

None of those involved in the establishment of the noble project could have foreseen that less than four decades down the line, all it would take for intellectually lazy people to get a degree approved by the school Senate would be N2 million to N3 million.

All the interested person needs are the required amount of money – which can vary depending on the department of choice – and an O-level certificate and in two to three weeks, they can count themselves as 'LASU graduates'. Remarkably, their details and results make it to the school server alongside those of genuine graduates who burnt the candle at both ends to earn theirs.

And that is not all: the founders must be turning in their graves knowing that not only is certificate racketeering thriving in the school but that some staff members were caught and mysteriously allowed to stay on as if nothing happened.

SaharaReporters learnt that some of the members of the degree-awarding syndicate have since been promoted and in a few cases risen to become professors in the school.

Sting Operation With Body Cameras

Indeed, in 2020-2021, a sting operation spearheaded by the school management at the time and the Department of State Services (DSS) exposed certificate racketeering in the school and succeeded in getting confessions from some members of the syndicate. Sadly, sources said it all ended with the administration of Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun as Vice-Chancellor.

His successor, Prof Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello has shown no interest whatsoever in weeding out the bad eggs in the school system, a security source privy to the investigation said.

Sources in the DSS told SaharaReporters that the sting operation which was highly detailed and included the use of body cameras and other gadgets started in 2020 and culminated in the arrest and grilling of a few members of staff.

Some of the members of the syndicate who wrote confessional statements at the DSS in Lagos include Muyideen Zubairu, Daniel Amos, Olowu Abiona, Akindele Qudus Tunde, Oyebanji Olumide Ezun, Tajudeen Abayomi Olumoko, Hammed Ayofe Mutalib, and London Oghenemaro Vincent. 

“The certificate racketeering syndicate have genuine Lagos State University certificates that anyone interested can purchase for between N2 million and N3 million, depending on the technicality of the course involved,” one of the sources said.

“Once they have their client, the only things they will ask from the client are money and their O-level certificate. They check the number of credits you have. That will determine the course they will recommend. As professionals, they know the course you should do or the degree you should go for once you have this or that. Once that is settled, they have members of the syndicate in the ICT department of the school who will input the person’s date into the server. They collect the money and input all your scores, and after, it will be posted on the server of the university.

“Once you go to the school's server with the matric number generated for you, you get the name and details of the student there as an authentic student.”

SaharaReporters learnt that during the sting operation, money was paid separately and at different times to Daniel Amos and Akindele Qudus Tunde for two degrees, one in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management.

Amos charged N2 million for the Industrial Relations and Personnel Management degree for one Adewoye Michael – whose O-level result was used but he was already a graduate of another school at the time. Within three days, the profile of Adewoye Michael including a newly generated matric number and fake results from Year 1 to final year had been uploaded on the school’s server.

For the other candidate, Okowi Cosmos – also a graduate of another school at the time – whose O-level results were used in the sting operation, the bill was N3 million because the course of interest – Business Administration – was rated as more technical and complex.

Narrating how they went about it, one of the security sources said, “Later, we explained that we needed to get another certificate from them. So we presented another O-level certificate but we were told that another group would handle it since it was not Industrial Relations and Personnel Management. That was how we met Qudus, a non-teaching staff member.

“After we met with him, he gave a bill of N3 million and the then-VC (Prof. Fagbohun) who was saddened by the development and eager for us to bust the syndicate provided N1 million as an advance payment to give to the group to lure them in.

“There were body cameras and so on. We worked together as a team then and the school’s security team was also part of the operation.

“True to their word, they did it and everything was posted on the school’s server. It was ready for clearance by the Senate of the school; that was when we arrested those people. They spent some time in custody and made damning statements that indicted top-ranking members of the university.

“Some of those indicted are now professors. One London Oghenemaro Vincent was the head of those responsible for inputting the fake profile and results into the school’s server. He was a guru in it; he also fingered a top-ranking staff member that we tried hard to arrest but couldn’t because he was well-connected.

“Anyway, we found out that the ICT department of the school was very corrupt and there are still elements there today who were part of the certificate racketeering.”

“Sadly, when the tenure of Prof Fagbohun ended and Prof Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello came in, it turned out that some of those guys involved in the racketeering were part of those who helped her to become the VC one way or the other. So, she has swept the matter under the carpet to shield them. Letters written by the DSS were ignored,” one of the sources said.

104 Degree Certificates Issued By Syndicate

Meanwhile, no fewer than 104 people had been issued ‘genuine’ (LASU’s official degree certificates) by the syndicate at the time, as revealed by the investigation into their operations.

A November 2022 letter from the school’s Registrar, Emmanuel Fanu affirmed some 15 students who fraudulently obtained degrees but could not be located.

The letter dated November 2, 2022, briefly sighted by SaharaReporters, was addressed to the State Director of Security, Department of State Services. The letter is titled ‘Re: Petition On Admission Racketeering, Certificate Falsification And Transcripts Falsification: Request For Urgent Intervention’.

It reads, “Your letter with Reference No: 0.120/22/3111 dated 11th August, 2022 which was addressed to the Vice Chancellor on the above subject refers, please.

“I am directed by the Vice Chancellor, Lagos State University to inform you that a thorough check of the University’s database indicated that details of fifteen (15) out of the seventeen (17) matriculation numbers listed in your letter could be retrieved from our database while two (2) [i.e., 030813022013; 10113204050] could not be retrieved.

“In addition, the personal details including phone numbers of the individuals allocated the matriculation numbers could not be retrieved from our database.

“Presented below are the details of the fifteen (15) matriculation numbers and names of individuals same were allocated to, as retrieved from our database:

“Daniel Helen Ene, Business Administration; Olasemojo Babatunde David, Banking and Finance; Ogunleye Adebowale Dennis, Banking and Finance; Esika ThankGod, Computer Science; Boyejo Babatope Olumide, Computer Science; Daramola Micheal Oladimeji, Banking and Finance; Aderibigbe Monsurat Tola, Public Administration; Fajumo Eunice Olaoluwatoyin, Banking and Finance; Udoidem Uyobong Pius, Computer Science; Haruna Yusuf Ojo, Financial Management; Mmaduagwu Angela Ebele, Business Administration; Awhasu Solomon Avoseh, Economics; Kayode Yemisi Abiodun, Business Administration; Tinuoye Temitope Emmanuel, Computer Science; and Adenrele Babtunde Adewale, Computer Science.”

In the letter signed by the school’s Registrar, Emmanuel Fanu, apart from Mmaduagwu Angela Ebele whose results had already been presented to the Senate, the graduation status of others read ‘Not yet graduated’.

Interestingly, SaharaReporters also learned that two of those who got the fraudulent degrees are currently doing MBA programmes in the school with the results and the school is trying to keep it hush-hush.

However, when SaharaReporters called Amos - one of the members of the syndicate arrested by the DSS at the time – he said he could not give his response from where he was. He promised to call back but never did. 

He did not answer subsequent calls from SaharaReporters and also did not reply to the text message sent to him.

When SaharaReporters called the VC, Prof. Olatunji-Bello repeatedly, she did not answer. She also did not reply to a message sent to her.

University Reacts

However, Mrs. Oluwayemisi Thomas-Onashile, Coordinator of the LASU Centre for Information and Public Relations, replied to SaharaReporters’ inquiry and denied that the people involved were being shielded by the management.

According to her, the investigation into the racketeering is still ongoing and the university is fully cooperating with security agents. 

As her response, she wrote, “Sometimes, in the year 2020, the University discovered an incident of admission racketeering involving some of her staff and, in conjunction with a private agent, instituted an investigation on the matter.

“Consequently, the University wrote a petition to the Department of State Security (DSS) for further investigation, and the university gave full cooperation for the investigation.

“Afterwards, the DSS forwarded their report of investigation to the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Alausa, for advice, and we were reliably informed that the DPP and the DSS are still working on the matter.

“Nonetheless, we are aware that the agent who worked with the University in investigating the matter is the same agent writing a petition against the university to the Governor of Lagos State, insinuating a cover-up by the University.

“We state unequivocally that the University under this current administration of Prof. Ibiyemi OLATUNJI-BELLO is not covering up any person or group of persons.

“In fact, to the best of our knowledge, investigations are still ongoing, and the University is fully cooperating with the law enforcement agencies and officers in the investigation. The allegation of a cover-up by this administration is not true.

“It is important to reiterate that the University has given full support to the DSS so far. Therefore, the insinuation that the University did not want the success of the investigation is not tenable. A representative of the University was still at the DPP’s office last week on the matter, and the outcome of the meeting is being worked on."

Meanwhile, from North to South, East to West, there are beneficiaries of the fraudulently acquired LASU degrees in the country, through the syndicate. SaharaReporters learnt that many of the beneficiaries abound at Alaba Market in Lagos. One of them could be Mohammed Garba Gololo, a former member of the House of Representatives.

It is not clear how Garba Gololo, who was sacked from the House of Representatives in 2019 by the Court of Appeal over certificate forgery laid his hands on his; however, efforts made by SaharaReporters to speak to him failed as he did not answer calls nor reply to a text message sent to him.

In a letter dated May 4, 2021, and obtained by SaharaReporters, LASU denied issuing a BSc certificate in Business Administration and a Master of Business Administration certificate to Gololo.

The letter was written by Amuni Mohammed Olayinka, Registrar and Secretary to the University Council in response to a letter from the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission dated April 4, 2021.

The ICPC had asked the university to conduct an investigation into Gololo’s academic records.

According to the letter, the university described the certificates the former lawmaker was parading as fake, adding that he was at no time a student of the school.

The letter reads: “The University having gone through records from Examination and Records Division and Postgraduate School, the following information are hereby provided in respect of the two [2] Certificates stated above presented by Mohammed Garba Gololo to Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission:

“B.Sc Certificate in Business Administration presented by Mohammed Garba Gololo neither emanated nor was it issued by the University and therefore not authentic.”

“Mohammed Garba Gololo was never admitted and therefore not enrolled into the Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration and Master of Business Administration Programmes of the University at any time and would not have graduated from Lagos State University as claimed.

“The B.Sc Business Administration without number and Master of Business Administration Certificate No. 053812 in the name of Mohammed Garba Gololo did not emanate nor were the two [2] Certificate issued by the Lagos State University.

“The presented and attached copies of B.Sc Business Administration without number and Master of Business Administration Certificate No: 053812 presented by Mohammed Garba Gololo are therefore not authentic.”

Consequently, the ICPC concluded that Gololo had committed a criminal offence contravening sections 16 and 25 of the ICPC Act, 2000 as well as Section 364 of the Penal Code, and should be charged accordingly.

Like all the members of the LASU syndicate involved in selling degrees, who were not punished in any way for the criminal offence, Gololo walks free. 

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