The Ambrose Alli University (AAU) Special Intervention Team has decried the high level of certificate and transcript scandal in the state-owned university, noting that staff and management of the institution were deliberately withholding certificates and transcripts to extort and rip off graduates.
The team headed by Mr. Andrew Olotu was set up in 2021 to help advance the government’s vision to reposition the institution to meet global standards.
Presenting its interim report to the Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, at the Government House, Benin City, the SIT also alleged a N2bn tax fraud and other corrupt practices by the management and staff of the University.
Speaking on behalf of the other members of the intervention team, Mr. Austin Osakue, noted that “one of the things that have given AAU a bad image globally is the issues of certificate and transcript. The biggest business in AAU is transcript business and certificate.
According to him, “Students, including those who finished from the Political Science Department from 2017 to 2021 don't know what their certificates look like. They can’t see their results but have done their projects and have graduated.”
He added, “There is a cabal in certificate and transcript business in AAU. When complaints on certificates and transcripts come and the management and staff of the institution know that it is tied to the government or the Special Intervention Team, such transcripts and certificates are readied in 48 hours.”
Osakwe added, “Money for transcripts and certificates will exchange hands but never come into the University’s purse.”
According to the team, “Over N2 billion was owed the Edo State Government from the tax that was never paid to the state government. AAU receives more salaries compared to UNIBEN staff and they never pay taxes.
“All the Internally Generated Revenues (IGRs) and school fees collected were not accounted for and all the money entered private pockets instead of the school purse. We have been able to check this excess and now are able to collect N32 million in taxes for the Edo State Government.
“One of the biggest problems in AAU is overhead spending on diesel. Following the bad electricity situation in Ekpoma, the staff of the institution are cashing in on the situation to steal money from the treasury.”
Governor Obaseki, while receiving the report, commended the team for their service to the State, noting, “The greatest legacy for late Prof. Ambrose Alli is to restore this University back to its glory days and that of his dreams. He never made the University to be an ethnic university but a state university and positioned it as such. The University belongs to the Edo people. It’s Edo State University and the investment is for taxpayers of Edo State.”
“As a government, we have the political will as we are taking a major transformation in our education sector and can do so with our University. We need to clean up the system, preparing it for our children coming in.”
Obaseki added, "Your reports show that there is a criminal aspect in your investigation submitted so far. We don't have to wait for a full report. That is why I invited the security agencies to commence action and investigation on the criminal aspect of your findings today.”
Earlier, a representative of civil society organizations in Edo State, Mr. Omobude Agho, while commending the team for a great job, called on the governor to ensure the immediate investigation and prosecution of those involved in the fraud in the state-owned varsity.
He noted that the University is for Edo people and not for a particular ethnic group, hailing the governor’s commitment to repositioning the school to meet global standards.
Agho said, “I want to appreciate the SIT for the report and thank you for all the troubles you have gone through and appreciate you for the victory achieved so far.
“The last time I led Edo civil society organizations to Ekpoma, they were trying to hide some of these things you mentioned, but they didn't know that we were on ground two days before the meeting and went around to observe them.”
He added, “We observed that there is this ethnic right of ownership of AAU. Some people think it's a gift presented to them by the late Ambrose Alli so that they can use it to sustain themselves.
“That is not correct. The University belongs to Edo people and not to certain people. It’s our property and should be owned by all of us. This should be explained by His Excellency himself, letting the people know that the University is for Edo people.”