The Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) on Tuesday paraded eight business (computer) centre operators for alleged forgery of academic documents.
The suspects whose businesses were domiciled in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital revealed that they do issue fake university certificates on demand for as low as N2000.
Top on the “beneficiaries” of fake qualifications are persons working with international and local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the Boko Haram ravaged North-Eastern Nigeria.
Officials said forged certificates were issued to persons seeking certification for health-related courses or job opportunities.
The NSCDC said it was investigating the suspects for alleged doctoring of admission letters, certificates, ID cards, tuition fee receipts, stamps and official seals of various tertiary institutions around the Northeast, including the University of Maiduguri.
The suspects, who were paraded together with some of the forged documents and stamps, were picked from a popular commercial centre known as Post Office.
The Borno State commandant of the NSCDC, Abdullahi Ibrahim, said it took his command nine months to investigate the unfortunate development.
Mr Ibrahim blamed the “thriving” illegal business of academic certificates forgery on “the premium attached to paper qualifications by employers of labour.”
He said the most disheartening aspect of the documents falsification racket is the “fake admission letters and ID cards issued to some of the students who have gone far in their academic pursuits undetected.”
The official said some cases of students committing suicide in their final year may not be unconnected with the fear of their institutions discovering they tendered fake certificates to gain admission.
He said the NSCDC discovered that some workers of tertiary institutions were also involved in the forgery racket.
Mr Ibrahim said the suspects also falsify bank tellers for payment of tuition fees which the students normally tender for clearance in their registration processes.
The NSDC boss in Borno State implored tertiary institutions, employers of labour and banks to “overhaul their internal control mechanism by periodically reviewing their personnel credentials.”
One of the suspects, Abubakar Abubakar, who claimed to be a staff of the University of Maiduguri, said he was introduced into the illicit business by his friend.
According to him, they usually collect as low as N1,000 for a cloned ID card.
Another suspect who would not mention his name said: “We use to issue a university degree certificate for N2000, while a bank teller for tuition fee goes for N1500 or N1000.”
The suspect said they have copies of most institutions admission letters and certificates which they easily clone.
The NSCDC said it is still investigating the matter with a view to bringing more suspects into its net.