The trial of Professor Chris Okoro and Mr. Charles Ebue, of Richmond Open University, Ltd, Enugu, who were arraigned by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) before Hon Justice Mohammed Liman of the Federal High Court, Enugu commenced on Wednesday 1st November, 2017.
The accused persons were charged in May, 2013 for operating an unaccredited academic degree-awarding institution in Enugu.
The first prosecution witness, Mr Chidi Orji, an operative of ICPC, testified before Justice Liman that his team of investigators had obtained a warrant from the Federal High Court, Abuja in May, 2013 to search and seal up the premises of Richmond Open University, Ltd, Enugu and about 62 other such institutions across the country.
The witness further informed the court that the activities of the unaccredited university were noticed following a Universities System Study and Review exercise carried out by ICPC which revealed the prevalence of many unaccredited academic degree-awarding institutions in Nigeria. He narrated how the Commission obtained a list of such unaccredited institutions from the National Universities Commission and identified the Richmond Open University, Ltd as number 41 on the list.
The witness testified that some of the institutions on the list were licensed to operate as universities but were offering unaccredited academic programmes.
He said that some other institutions were operating without complying with the provisions of the Education (National Minimum Standards) and Establishment of Institutions Act 2004.
The witness further testified that unsuspecting members of the public were attracted to study in these universities without knowing that the academic certificates offered were unaccredited and worthless for employment or career progression.
The prosecution witness identified Mazi Okoro as the Sole Proprietor, Vice Chancellor and Academic Instructor who was awarding national diplomas, higher national diplomas, first degrees, masters’ degrees, and doctorate degrees in various fields including accounting, criminology and journalism.
The ICPC prosecutor, Barrister Adenekan Shogunle applied to tender the warrant from the Federal High Court, Abuja which was admitted in evidence and marked as Exhibit 1. The case was further adjourned to 6th December, 2017 for continuation of hearing.