Abuja — The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, in conjunction with the National Universities Commission, NUC, is set to beam its searchlight on corrupt practices in the Nigerian universities over chain of petitions received by the anti-graft commission.
The acting Chairman of the ICPC, Mr Ekpo Nta, said this at a one-day sensitisation workshop on 'Effects of Corruption in the Nigerian University System" to examine the state of the country's tertiary institutions, in Abuja, yesterday.
Nta said ICPC had received petitions from students, members of staff, unions and other stakeholders alleging sundry corrupt practices and abuses in most tertiary institutions in the country.
The chairman said the abuses were highlighted as including admission processes, conduct of examinations, appointments and promotion of staff, manipulation and falsification of academic records such as transcripts.
Also reported are sexual harassment and victimisation of applicants, syndicated plagiarism by students and staff, delay or non-payment of gratuities and pension, non-adherence to bidding processes in the award of contracts.
Others are illegal accreditation processes through deception, running un-approved study centres, affiliating programmes to accredited schools, establishing and operating un-approved and consequently illegal universities.
Nta said preliminary investigations by the commission pointed towards utter disregard and failure of regulatory systems within the academic institutions which had allowed many form of corruption.
He said that the review would form policies and guidelines to improve the quality of service delivery in the various institutions.
The ICPC boss, however, warned that after the exercise, the commission would not hesitate to sanction any institution which fall short of the standards to be put in place.
The chairman, however, mentioned the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye and Salem University, Lokoja as the three universities that would be used for its system study.
Nta said that the ICPC study and review exercise would take about two weeks in each university and that a strong team comprising university administrative experts and professional investigators would be present at each campus.
On his part, the Executive Secretary of NUC, Prof. Julius Okojie frowned at the governing structure of some private universities, saying that some of them were violating the provisions of the autonomous act given to them.
"We are working to ensure that there are standard structures and quality in the system, ICPC is only coming in to provide a support that would make us succeed.
"We want the Anti-Corruption Transparency Units (ACTUs) to be established in all the Nigeria universities.
"We believe that working with the Vice-Chancellors of the universities and other heads of departments will make our work easy," he said.
Fielding questions from Vanguard on the beaming of ICPC searchlight as an indictment on the tertiary institutions, Okojie swiftly responded, "No. ICPC is going to all sector is not only about Nigerian universities. You can charge somebody for a crime if he does not know what crime it all about. Let the universities know are infractions such as selling of handouts etc those are little things within the university system".
"We are not going to take over the responsibility of the committees but major issues like a university commit a crime by running a programme outside the campus and the way it goes about students' admissions, examination administrations".
"Have told ICPC that l don't expect our Professors to be locked ignorantly because they need to know what is wrong and what not to do hence once we education on the Dos and Don'ts and if anyone goes outside the rules, such a person is on his own"