The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has called on all public sector institutions in the country to immediately conduct academic credentials verification of all their staff.
The commission made the call on Tuesday, April 19, through a press statement signed by Patrick Sandi, Director of Public Education and Outreach at ACC.
The commission made reference to public discussions relating to the issuance of Certificates (Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate Degrees) by mainly, the Dominion Christian University (DCU) and the African Graduate University (AGU) and that and those certificates were deemed to be “fake” since the afore-said institutions were not accredited to award such certificates.
It also made reference to a press statement issued by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) dated 8th April, 2022, in which the TEC clearly stated that AGU was not accredited and was not a recognized University in Sierra Leone.
The ACC noted that some employees within the civil and public service possess those “fake” certificates not just from the aforesaid universities but other sources of fake or unaccredited institutions and may have used them to gain employments, promotions and other benefits in the Civil and Public Service thereby undeservedly conferring an “advantage” on themselves within the meaning of corruption in the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008, as amended in 2019.
“The ACC hereby confirms that recruitments, promotions, assessments, reviews, transfers, punishments etc. within the Civil and Public Service are primarily the functions and mandates of the Public Service Commission (PSU), the Human Resource Management Office (HRMO), the Public Sector Reform Unit (PSRU) and Cabinet Secretariat,” the ACC states.
The ACC further noted that the aforementioned departments were expected to provide leadership in ensuring that employees within the civil and public service hold genuine qualifications required for a specific job/position.
“The various administrative and human resources offices/officers within public institutions also have a responsibility to ensure that proper qualifications are used to access public jobs/positions,” they stated.
“In a bid to collaborate with the entities in the midst of the on-going allegations that there are persons in the public service that hold the fake certificates, the ACC is calling on all Ministries, Departments, Parastatals and Agencies of Government through their Human Resource Divisions, Units or Internal Audit Units to immediately carry out verification audit on ALL Certificates used by employees to gain employment, promotions and other benefits within their respective institutions of work and furnish the outcomes of same to the ACC by way of referral.”
As a parallel approach, the ACC has set up a task force comprising investigators and prevention officers, to progressively do a credential integrity review for public officers with the mandate to look into employments, promotions of persons within the broad spectrum of the civil and public service, who would have willfully and knowingly used or submitted what would amount to “fake” certificates or degrees to confer advantage on themselves as the conduct, once established may constitute a corruption offence as stipulated in Section 128(3) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 as amended in 2019.
They further informed the public that, academic verification should be part of normal administrative responsibilities of institutions, noting that even the ACC had in 2021 conducted similar verification audit on all its staff, and reports that no staff within the employment of the commission holds certificate(s) from DCU or AGU.
They said the Commission further did a full confirmatory verification of degrees with the respective Universities, including the University of Sierra Leone, Njala University and UNIMAK and one staff who had stated that he had a degree and it turned out he was still pursuing his degree was summarily dismissed by the Commissioner after the credentials audit.