The Registrar of JAMB, Prof Ishaq Oloyede and NYSC’s Director-General, Brigadier-General YD Ahmed, both raised the concern during a radio town hall meeting against the upsurge of certificate forgery in Nigeria, organized by the Progressive Impact Organisation for Community Development, PRIMORG, at the weekend in Abuja.
Speaking on the challenges of JAMB in curbing results falsification, Oloyede, who was represented by JAMB’s Public Relations Officer, Dr. Fabian Benjamin, revealed that the board is doing its possible best in the fight against falsification of results but worries that punishments meted out to culprits of forgery are far too weak and small compared to the efforts put in to prosecute perpetrators of forgery, hence the need for an amendment.
Benjamin said, “We (JAMB) have people who are in prison at the moment. We have to make sure that we follow them diligently to get to the root of the matter and then get justice. Some of them have paid their fines and have gotten out of prison.
“The challenge is that we (JAMB) have a candidate arrested for forgery, we spent over N4 to 5 million following up the case, investigation, prosecution, but at the end of the day, he was fined only N5,000, and he paid and walked away, so you asked yourself whether it is worth it.
“Imagine you have spent over N7 million, and a culprit of forgery just paid N5,000 and walked away.
“But we will continue to do our best. We understand that some of these laws must be amended to reflect our current reality,” Benjamin stated.
Similarly, NYSC’s Director of Community Relations Press & Public Relations Unit, Caroline Embu, who stood in for the Director-General, revealed that the Service often encounters cases of certificate forgery and usually hand over culprits to the Nigeria Police for prosecution.
Embu, however, alluded that “NYSC’s law against forgery is old and needed to be reviewed as current sanctions are not stringent enough to prevent people from forging certificates.
“I wouldn’t say punishment for people caught in certificate forgery is strong enough to deter others because the decree is ancient, and with the punishments there, you might end up paying a small fee for forgery,” Embu stressed.
She said the NYSC has put measures in place to fight fake certificates, which starts with verification of certificates of corps members with the help of the Ministry of Education and National University Commission, NUC—noting that forgery of NYSC certificates continues to be on the increase because it is a requirement for job placement into civil service and public institutions, elective offices and political appointments.
Embu lauded the advent of technology, saying, “It has helped the NYSC immensely to fight forgery while calling for the strengthening of the NYSC Act.
On his part, Public Affairs Analyst Jide Ojo called on the Federal Government and lawmakers to remove archaic laws that tend to minimize punishment for certificate forgery while commending PRIMORG for bringing such an issue to the public glare.
Ojo, while stating that forgery of almost all sorts of documents has been around in Nigeria for decades, faulted politicians and elites for setting bad examples over the years, adding that “technology can help in reducing the upsurge of certificate forgery, but the ultimate solution is tougher sanctions for forgers.”
“Our leaders must show and lead by example. You know, we cannot have people in government but they’re not credible and have suspicious credentials, and you just wave it and say it does not matter.
“We also need to do something about our laws; archaic laws that do not sufficiently punish forgers to serve as a deterrent for others who may wish to go along that route.
“Imagine you spend N7 million to persecute somebody, and the court says pay N5,000 and go; that is a very good incentive, so we need to strengthen our laws.
“On ICT, some institutions have refused to be ICT compliant. In the federal civil service, many are still pushing files from one table to the other and have refused to embrace the maximum advantage of ICT.
“ICT itself is not a silver bullet to ending certificate forgery, but it can only help to reduce the scam considerably,” Ojo averred.
Daily Trust journalist John Chuks Azu decried the impact of certificate forgery in Nigeria, saying, “It is costing the nation productivity as individuals who are not fit for positions of leadership and authority find themselves in such places.
He added that the menace of forgery in Nigeria cuts across health and every other sector.
Azu joined calls for strengthening laws against forgery while advising institutions in Nigeria to thoroughly check the source of certificates and documents presented by individuals. That will help to checkmate forgery.
“There is no gainsaying that forgery and falsification are dangerous to the country. Look at our medical, judiciary, and other sectors. When you deploy characters that have not been properly prepared, they risk not only the lives of other people but the standards of service which are required to drive development and this is why Nigeria today cannot be productive,” Azu stressed.
The PRIMORG’s Town Hall Meeting Against Corruption series is aimed at calling the public and government attention to specific issues of corruption in Nigeria.
The syndicated radio program runs with support from the MacArthur Foundation.