The controversy over the alleged certificate forgery by the executive chairman of the Federal Character Commission (FCC), Muheeba Dankaka, assumed a new twist as the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) at the weekend retracted an earlier letter distancing itself from her MBA certificate.
Daily Trust reports that the retraction came after the FCC chair had been separately invited and grilled in Abuja by operatives of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Nigeria Police Force Headquarters and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
An earlier reply to police inquiry on the matter referenced: R/ACA/GEN06 dated December 21, 2023 and signed by Umaru Danjuma Abdulahi, the university verification officer for the registrar, reads: “I wish to inform you that the available records in the university revealed that the photocopy of the certificate attached to your letter didn’t emanate from this university…”
However, following her invitation by the EFCC and the police last week, another letter from the ABU affirmed that the MBA degree awarded Muheeba indeed emanated from the institution.
The letter, which came from the office of the registrar and secretary to the university’s council signed by Rabiu Samaila, with reference number: R/ACA/GEN/06 dated January 16, 2024, was addressed to the Commissioner of Police, Force Criminal Investigation Department, Garki, Abuja.
The letter, which confirmed that the master’s degree in Business Administration issued to Dankaka emanated from the ABU, reads: “The certificate attached to your letter bearing the name Muiba Nike Salau for Master of Business Administration emanated from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
“I wish to add that the earlier letter referenced: R/ACA/GEN/06 DATED 21st December 2023 sent in response to your letter under reference did not pass through the approved procedure for verification and external communications and is therefore null and void. Its issuance is deeply and sincerely regretted.”
Speaking on why the institution retracted the earlier letter denying the MBA certificate issued the FCC chair, Auwalu Umar, ABU’s Director of Public Affairs, said the author of the letter was not authorized to do so.
“We accept full responsibility for both letters, but I wish to let you know that the earlier one denying the FCC chair’s MBA was written in error and did not follow the due process of verification.
“When we realized the error, we carried out proper verification and discovered that she was indeed awarded the MBA degree certificate, hence the second letter to correct the error”, Umar said.
Before facing the fresh allegations of certificate forgery, Dankaka had been interrogated by an ad-hoc committee of the House of Representatives which investigated the alleged job racketeering at the FCC in August last year.
In the course of the committee’s public hearing, startling revelations surfaced putting Dankaka on the spot.
She was accused by some ‘integrity commissioners’ of running the commission like a ‘sole administrator’ and being in the thick of the job racketeering at the commission.
Her former protocol officer, Kolo Haruna, had told the committee how he used to collect amounts of money from those paying for jobs allegedly on behalf of the chairman and lodged same in his account.
However, the FCC chairman had denied the allegations, describing the integrity group as non-existent at the commission even as the report of the job racketeering probe is still being awaited.
Petition on alleged certificate forgery
Daily Trust reports that the fresh probe against the FCC chair was sequel to a petition dated May 23, 2023 and addressed to the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID), Garki, Abuja, by a civil society organisation, Youth and Leadership Initiatives, that Dankaka presented false information to the Presidency and the National Assembly to secure the chairmanship of the FCC.
The petition, signed by Edith Ejeh Ochuole, reads: “We are a non-profit organization focusing on leadership and public accountability in Nigeria. Based on these objectives, we are writing to intimate you of the noticeable falsification of certificate, identity falsification and presentation of false information on oath against Dr Moheeba Farida Dankaka on which her appointment was made and confirmed by Mr President and the Senate.
“That Dr. Muheeba Farida Dankaka (OON) presented a number of documents that are inconsistent with each other. These are as follows:
“Dr.” Muheeba (Farida) Dankaka refers to herself as ‘Dr’. When in actual fact she holds no Ph.D degree in any recognized university. The acclaimed Honorary Doctor of Philosophy which she holds was issued by an institution that was not recognized and or accredited by the National Universities Commission (NUC). The Commission had declared Pacific Western University. Denver, Colorado, USA, Owerri study campus as illegal and thereby shut it down.
“Meanwhile Dr. Muheeba Farida Dankaka was issued with the certificate in 2007 and her name appears as MUHEEBA H. DANKAKA. This name is also at variance with the present name she bears ‘Dr. Muheeba Farida Dankaka.
“On the face of the Master’s degree certificate copy attached to her Curriculum Vitae, her name is Muiba Nike Salau. This name is at variance with the present name she bears ‘Dr. Muheeba Farida Dankaka.”
Following the petition, the FCC chairman was on January 11 grilled by the operatives of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) for several hours.
The police had, in a letter with a reference number 3000/X/FHQ/ABJ/PSFU/BIFF/ VOL.51/014, dated January 8, 2024, signed by DCP Tahir Usman, Deputy Commissioner of Police, for Commissioner of Police (PSFU), Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID), Abuja, invited her for questioning.
It was also gathered that as part of its investigation into the petition, the police had written a letter to the Academic Affairs Department of ABU referenced: CB3000/XFHQ/ABJ/PSFU/VOL47/198, dated July 12, 2023 and titled, ‘Investigation Activities’ seeking confirmation of the Master’s degree presented by Muheeba in her CV for confirmation as FCC chair by the Senate.
Sources at the FCC and the police, who are familiar with the matter, confirmed that Dankaka honoured the police invitation and after being quizzed, was asked to report back on a later date with original copies of all her certificates.
Similarly, the EFCC on January 16 interrogated the FCC boss for several hours in connection with the same issue.
My academic records open to anybody—FCC chair
Responding to the allegations of certificate forgery against her, Dankaka said having undergone her academic career in Nigeria, her record “is there for anyone who cares to know.”
Chuks Okoli, the FCC’s Director of Public Affairs and Communication, who responded on Dankaka’s behalf, said: “Granted that the allegation of certificate fraud was made against the executive chairman through one civil society organisation by the five aggrieved commissioners, the allegation has been responded to.
“The executive chairman, times without number, has made it clear that her academic record is open to anybody who cares to know, having undergone her academic career in Nigeria; Bayero University, Kano and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.
“When a petition is written against a civil servant, either to EFCC or any government agency with the power of investigation, it is the duty of such agency to invite the accused for interrogation and clarification.
“This is exactly the case with the executive chairman of the FCC; she was invited to clear herself of the allegations made against her and was neither arrested nor detained.”