Assembly investigates certificate racketeering in Abia poly

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From BONIFACE OKORO, Umuahia

Abia State House of Assembly has set up a three-man ad hoc committee to investigate allegation of certificate racketeering against the state-owned Polytechnic in Aba.

Immediate past Speaker of the House who is the member representing Isiala Ngwa South State Constituency, Rt.Hon.Sir Chikwendu Kalu, is the Chairman of the ad hoc committee, with Hon. Jerry Uzosike (Umuahia South State Constituency), Hon. Emeka Okoroafor (Isuikwuato State Constituency) and Hon. Aaron Uzodike, as members.

The committee has been mandated by the House to investigate a petition sent by the Coalition of Civil Society Groups in the State alleging a case of certificate racketeering in Abia State Polytechnic, Aba.

The petitioners alleged that there was a case of certificate forgery and other manipulations at the institution.

The Chairman of the Coalition of Civil Society Groups in Abia State (CCSGA), Johnson Eme and Secretary of the group, Veronica Nwaogu, who signed the petition, alleged that the Polytechnic issued a Diploma Statement of Result to a businessman which showed that he graduated on August 1, 2020, when his classmates were still studying and yet to complete the required duration for the course, having gained admission in 2018.

The CSOs urged the Assembly to investigate if the businessman could have completed the duration for the Business Administration and Management course when the COVID-19 pandemic halted academic activities worldwide in 2020.

The group further urged the House to investigate and conduct a public hearing on the matter.

According to the CSOs, “There is alleged certificate racketeering in the Abia State Polytechnic , Aba, with reference to a questionable Diploma Statement of Result with registration number, 2018NDE/04397/BA, issued to one Gregory Okwuchukwu Okafor who is doing evening part-time programme in the institution. In the petition which we have made available to the Speaker, as it has become a public document, we request the Abia State House of Assembly to constitute a panel of enquiry and conduct a public hearing to unravel the truth of the matter.

“The alleged Diploma Statement of Result states that the certificate was signed on November 30, 2021 bearing the name of the retired Registrar of the polytechnic, Chief Mrs. C.A. Nwabughiogu, instead of the current Registrar, Mr. Chinyere Oriaku.

“Looking at the Statement of Result, it is very doubtful and highly questionable as it was signed on November 30, 2021 bearing the name of a long, retired Registrar of the institution, one Chief Mrs C.A. Nwabughiogu, instead of the current Registrar, Mr. Chinyere Oriaku. This is not possible because the retired Registrar is not supposed to have issued an official document with her headed paper when she had retired from the polytechnic. The same Statement of Result, as controversial as it is, was signed by a staff in the Registrar’s office with the name, Ogbuji Peace Ebere, not even by the current Registrar.”

The CSOs also stated that the sanctity of the certificates as issued by the Polytechnic is paramount over primordial interest and urged that the petition be investigated without delay.

After the petition was read at the plenary, Speaker of the House, Chief Chinedum Orji, described the matter as “a sensitive, important and critical matter” which must be thoroughly investigated.

He announced a former speaker of the Assembly, Barr. Chikwendu Kalu as chairman, while Hon. Jerry Uzosike, Hon. Emeka Okoroafor and Hon. Uzodike Aaron, were named as members. He gave the Committee two weeks to report back to the House.

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