LASU: Certificate racketeering perpetrated through defunct satellite campuses – Forensic firm
…Says investigations not yet concluded
By Adesina Wahab
The forensic firm contracted by the management of the Lagos State University, LASU, to investigate allegation of certificate racketeering in the institution, has said it has not concluded investigations into the matter.
This is just as the firm, Wealth Root, explained that findings so far showed that the act was being perpetrated through the satellite campuses of the university that were later scrapped.
In a statement on Monday by the General Manager, Mr Benedict Okohnma, the company also said there was no time the management of the university tried to interfere with the investigations.
The company added that those involved in the illegal act were those who previously worked in those satellite campuses before they were shut down.
“We wish to bring to the notice of the general public some misconceptions which are already in the social and traditional media about the alleged certificate racketeering in the Lagos State University.
“We are Wealthroot, a forensic firm contracted by the management of LASU in 2020 under the immediate past management led by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun, to undertake a discreet undercover to unravel some elements within the university suspected to be engaged in certificate racketeering.
“On Monday last week, an online medium-saharareporters.com, carried a story with the headline: ‘Degree for Sale: Sting Operation Exposes Lagos State University Certificate Racketeering, Shielding Of Workers, Charging Up To N3 million per buyer”. The story alleged that current management was aware of the perpetrators and was even shielding them. “We, however, wish to state categorically that the story was full of fallacies and could put both the management and university in a bad light. More worrisome is that saharareporters which carried the story neither got in touch with us nor sought clarifications before going to the press. Most disappointing, however, is the fact that saharareporters went to press while we were yet to conclude investigations.
“On the strength of the foregoing, we wish to state the facts of the matter thus: In the year 2020, a concerned alumnus drew the university management’s attention to the alleged certificate racketeering going on in the university. After that, management promptly reached out to us. This led to commissioning us to act as an undercover agent to unravel members of the syndicate that were involved in the act of manipulating the university server and subsequently imputing records of non-graduates of the university.
“One of our key assignments by the university was to observe the modus operandi of this syndicate, i.e process of recruiting their clients; administrative and academic process up to the point of clearance, all of which required some of us to be part of them physically. We were also detailed to operate alongside some security agents to apprehend the perpetrators regardless of how highly placed they were.
“During our investigation, we discovered that this act was being perpetrated through the University External System otherwise known as Satellite campuses and not the full-time regular academic programmes as it was being projected in the media.
“Further findings by us also revealed that some members of these syndicates had once worked at the university’s External System at one point or the other, and so took advantage of the university’s resolve to wind up the External System by clearing the backlog of yet to be graduated students of the External System platform, otherwise known as part-time students at the time.
“The university also charged us not to compromise standards but to do a thorough job by taking our time to explore every patchy area. This took us some time as we could not rush so we could gather undeniable evidence to nail the culprits. It is also noteworthy that the university secretly brought in the DSS, and university security guards as support hands, while the investigation lasted.
We were also charged to put forward recommendations and measures to prevent such ugly occurrences from further happening in the institution and submit our findings to the University. As at the time the saharareporters blew the story, our final report was yet to be submitted to the university,” the statement read in part.
The firm said it constantly updated the former university management and has been doing so with the current leadership.
It added that there was no time the current VC, Prof. Ibiyemi Olatunji-Bello or anybody else tried to cover up the matter or interfere in its work.
It stated that the investigation would soon be concluded and submitted to the appropriate quarters.