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NSCDC: Certificate Forgery and Implication for National Security



NSCDC: Certificate Forgery and Implication for National Security
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In recent times, Nigeria has been grappling with a concerning issue that strikes at the heart of its national security apparatus – the proliferation of certificates forgery in within the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). This alarming trend not only undermines the integrity of the NSCDC but also poses significant risks to the nation’s overall security framework.

Late last year, Nigerians woke up to the revelation by an undercover journalist, Umar Audu, who said he received his certificate from a Cotonou-based University in Benin Republic like a pizza within six weeks. As a result of this, the Federal Government came heavily on citizens who obtained various degrees from countries like Benin republic, Cameroun, Niger republic etc.

It was argued that such certificates/degrees do not meet Nigeria’s requirements as some spent only 6, 8 months to graduate with a degree while a Master’s degree takes only one year. Also, others are alleged not to have attended such schools in the first place. Others bought it while some forged it. Such certificates most times are not relevant to the country.

In a related development, an independent investigation has revealed that about 400 staffers and personnel of NSCDC are alleged to have entered service with fake certificates of schools they never attended since there are no traces of names in schools they claimed they attended.

While this practice jeopardizes the credibility of genuine certificates and raises questions about the efficacy of educational institutions, not only in those countries where certificates are issued but also in Nigeria, the infiltration of fake certificates into the NSCDC calls for a serious concern.

This has become an escalating challenge, raising questions about the competence and authenticity of personnel tasked with ensuring the safety and security of the nation. Reports suggest that individuals with forged qualifications may have found their way into critical positions, potentially compromising the effectiveness of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).

In an attempt to curb this menace, both the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other-Related Offences Commission (ICPC), and Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) have written to the Corp concerning such individuals in NSCDC parading fake certificates. But it seems the cabals stepped it down and shielded the 400 personnel.

When the integrity of a security organization is compromised, it poses a great danger not only to the Corp but the nation as a whole. A drastic approach must be deployed to retire and if possible punish those found culpable. Otherwise, the Corp might never achieve the desired dreams and aspirations of its vibrant and dogged CG of the corps.

There have been reported cases of NSCDC staffers caught in the web of forgery in the past.

One of such was in 2018, when ICPC arraigned one Hassan Manga, on charges bordering on forgery. Mr Manga was a Principal Inspector with Niger State Command of NSCDC. He was accused of procuring and presenting a forged Nigeria Certificate in Education (NCE), Lower Credit Certificate, from Adamu Augie College of Education in Kebbi state.

Similarly, in June 2019, ICPC, arraigned one Ocheme Adamu Andrew, before Honourable Justice Modupe Osho-Adebiyi of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court 33, sitting in Gudu, Abuja, for procuring and presenting a forged National Diploma (ND) Certificate, from Federal Polytechnic, Idah, Kogi State, with which he used to secure employment with NSCDC.

Also, in November 2023, Another officer of NSCDC, Anthony Damisa, an officer of the NSCDC, Niger State Command is facing court charges for alleged certificate forgery. Damisa was accused of forging a Certificate of Bachelor of Science (BSc) Degree in Public Administration from Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT).

One can conclude that all these are just few amongst several people who are guilty in the system. If the searchlight were to be beamed, a lot of others will be affected. An indication to that is the recent 400 personnels earlier mentioned.

The implications

The NSCDC, entrusted with safeguarding critical infrastructure and responding to emerging security threats, requires a highly skilled and reliable workforce. The presence of personnel with fake certificates raises concerns about the agency’s ability to respond effectively to complex security challenges, putting national security at risk.

Also, public trust in security agencies is indispensable for effective governance. The revelation of fake certificates within the NSCDC erodes the confidence that citizens place in the organization. This erosion of trust can have far-reaching consequences, affecting cooperation between the public and security forces.

Security agencies demand personnel with genuine qualifications to operate efficiently. The use of fake certificates can lead to operational inefficiencies, compromising the NSCDC’s ability to carry out its duties effectively. This issue not only hampers the agency’s overall performance but also jeopardizes the safety of the public.

Call for Urgent Reforms

The revelation of fake certificates within the Corp demands urgent and comprehensive reforms. Strengthening internal controls, investing in technology for secure certificate verification, and collaborating with educational institutions are crucial steps. Additionally, a transparent and merit-based recruitment process is essential to restore public confidence and uphold the agency’s commitment to national security.
This includes conducting thorough background checks and ensuring that candidates are selected based on genuine qualifications and competence.

Addressing this issue is not only crucial for the credibility of the security apparatus but is also a fundamental step in ensuring the safety and well-being of the nation. The government, security agencies, and educational institutions must collaborate to implement reforms that fortify the integrity of the NSCDC and maintain the nation’s security at the highest standards.

The Federal Government must frown at this form of corruption by setting up a team to investigate and verify such racketeering. President Tinubu must defend the future of our democracy, punish and retire those culprits. Some are due to retire but are occupying offices they know nothing about. The ICPC and EFCC have been trying, However, more is expected of them to sanitize the system.

In conclusion, there is no doubt that the Corp is poised to do a great task under the present Commandant-General (CG) of the NSCDC. However, I call on the Minister of Interior to look inward into the activities of the Management and all cadres of the Corp with a view to removing the bad eggs within the NSCDC for effective service delivery.

***Waheed Sagir, a Public Affairs Analyst, sent this piece from Abuja

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