An operative of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Mr Chidi Orji has told a Federal High Court sitting in Enugu that the highest formal education received by the proprietor of an “illegal” university was from a secondary school.
Testifying at the ongoing trial of the proprietor of Richmond Open University Ltd Enugu, Mazi Chris Okoro, before Hon Justice A. M. Liman, Mr. Orji stated that investigation undertaken by the Commission had revealed that Mazi Okoro whose highest educational qualification was acquired from a commercial secondary school in Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State, was the Proprietor, Vice Chancellor, Registrar and Academic Director of the university.
The witness further told the court that Okoro was solely responsible for awarding academic degrees and certificates to “unsuspecting members of the public” who had been made to falsely believe that a judgment delivered by Hon Justice Allagoa who was then of the Federal High Court, Enugu, in suit no FHC/EN/CS/76/2006 between one Ifeanyichukwu Okonkwo and the National Universities Commission had granted the Richmond Open University “a decree to operate freely” as a medium for dissemination of knowledge pursuant to S. 39 of the 1999 Constitution without recourse to the National Universities Commission(NUC) for accreditation of its academic programmes and thereby pay money to enroll in the university.
Led in evidence by ICPC’s prosecution counsel, Ebenezer Shogunle, the witness further revealed that Richmond Open University did not have a Senate, Council or Academic Board like legal conventional universities and that Mazi Okoro took on the title of “Professor” without any formal training or publications to his name simply because people called him that.
The witness tendered copies of academic prospectus, certificates, and financial records of fees paid by students undergoing various undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Criminology and Accounting which were recovered from the school premises at No. 31, Zik’s Avenue, Enugu, following a warrant issued by Hon Justice Abdul Kafarati of the Federal High Court, Abuja to facilitate a nationwide crackdown on 67 operators of illegal degree-awarding institutions by ICPC and NUC in 2013.
It should be noted that Mazi Okoro is being prosecuted by the Commission in Charge No. FHC/EN/CR/87/2013 for false assumption of authority contrary to Section 107 of the Criminal Code and obtaining money under false pretences contrary to Section 8 (1) (a) of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Related Offences Act 2006
The case was further adjourned to 21/3/2018 for continuation of hearing.