By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
Sierra Leone’s Anti- Corruption Commission (ACC) has urged all public sector institutions in the country to conduct academic credentials verification and audit following allegations of some top officials having fakes degrees from the African Graduate University (AGU) and the Dominion Christian University (DCU), an institutions the tertiary Education commission say they are not registered with them.
The country’s anti-graft body call comes after series of allegations by Sierra Leonean born –Australian Dr. John Idriss Lahai, a whistle blower of the issue about fake degrees and fake degree granting institutions operating in Sierra Leone.
‘’The attention of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) had been drawn to public discussions relating to the issuance of Certificates (Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate Degrees) by mainly, the Dominion Christian University (DCU) and the African Graduate University (AGU) and that; these Certificates are deemed to be “fake” since the afore-said institutions are not accredited to award such Certificates,’’ ACC said in a statement.
According to the ACC it said that it is also aware of a statement issued by the country’s Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) dated 8th April, 2022, in which the institution clearly stated that AGU is not accredited and is not a recognized University in the West African nation.
‘’Moreover, it is alleged that some employees within the Civil and Public Service possess these “fake” Certificates not just from the aforesaid universities but other sources of fake or unaccredited institutions and may have used them to gain employments, promotions and other benefits in the Civil and Public Service thereby undeservedly conferring an “advantage” on themselves within the meaning of corruption in the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 as amended in 2019,’’the Anti-graft agency said.
The country’s anti-graft agency added that recruitments, promotions, assessments, reviews, transfers, punishments within the Civil and Public Service are primarily the functions and mandates of the Public Service Commission (PSU), the Human Resource Management Office (HRMO), the Public Sector Reform Unit (PSRU) and Cabinet Secretariat thus stating that the aforementioned departments are expected to provide leadership in ensuring that employees within the Civil and Public Service hold genuine qualifications required for a specific job or position.
‘’The various administrative and human resources offices/officers within Public institutions also have a responsibility to ensure that proper qualifications are used to access public jobs and positions’’
The country’s anti-graft body went on to say that, they will set up a task force comprising investigators and prevention officers, to progressively do a credential integrity review for public officers with the mandate to look into employments, promotions of persons within the broad spectrum of the Civil and Public Service, who would have willfully and knowingly used or submitted what would amount to “fake” certificates or degrees to confer Advantage on themselves which the agency said once established my constitute corruption offence.
‘’In a bid to collaborate with these entities in the midst of the on-going allegations that there are persons in the Public Service that hold these fake Certificates, the ACC is calling on ALL Ministries, Departments, Parastatals and Agencies of Government through their Human Resource Divisions/Units or Internal Audit Units to immediately carry out verification audit on ALL Certificates used by employees to gain employment, promotions and other benefits within their respective institutions of work and furnish the outcomes of same to the ACC by way of referral’’
In a post on his Facebook account, the whistle blower Dr. John Idriss Lahai said ‘’ the ACC press release Dead on arrival – it failed before it was released’’
He added that the ACC’s press release is a win for the bad guys –the politically powerful and connected.