The premises of the Lagos State University (LASU) has been crowded by graduates jostling to collect their certificates in preparation for their compulsory National Youths Service Corps (NYSC).
The LASU management had compelled the graduates to pay some amounts of money for their certificates to be delivered at their various homes, to avoid a breach of Covid-19 protocol.
In the wake of Covid-19 outbreak which has now claimed hundreds of lives in Nigeria, the university management had postponed the annual convocation ceremony for the 2020 graduands. The convocation, originally scheduled for between March 20 and 27, was postponed and later held in December 2020.
Ordinarily, certificates are given to graduates at the convocation ceremony but the university management decided not to issue them over fear of Covid-19 spread.
According to a memo signed by Ademola Adekoya, the Coordinator of the Centre for Information Press and Public Relations in LASU, to guide 2019/2020 graduates on steps to collect their certificates, there must be “evidence of online payment for Courier Service delivery, depending on the destination”.
The cost of the courier service, which is charged based on candidates’ location, varies from N916 for Lagos, N4,280 for Abia, 5,504 for Kebbi and so on.
A total of 6,197 students graduated from the school, meaning that when multiplied with the courier costs fixed by LASU, the illegal income would have been somewhere between N10million and N30million, depending on the number of out-of-Lagos graduands. FIJ also obsereved that the total amounts paid by the students were higher than officially stated. For instance, receipts showed that a Lagos graduand paid a total of N1,422.50 instead of the officially stipulated N916.00.
The graduates were required to “write a letter to the Registrar, LASU, requesting for collection of certificate via courier, and they were to include the physical address to which the certificate would be delivered as well as a functional phone number and WhatsApp number. They were also to produce a “sworn affidavit that you are the true owner of the certificate and responsible for anything that may go wrong after collection”.
However, after hundreds of the graduands had paid according to their states, the school failed to deliver the certificates to them at their places of residence, as agreed by the two parties.
After going through the processes of online registration and payment, scores of the graduands still had to come to the school premises to collect the certificates, defeating the purpose of the introduction of the Courier Service delivery.
FIJ obtained photos and videos showing how Covid-19 protocols were breached while the certificates were being shared to the graduates. The Admin Block (Certificate Unit) of the institution was crowded by many graduands who neither wore facemasks nor maintained physical distancing.
“They’re completely not adhering to the Covid-19 protocols,” an eyewitness, who is a student of the school, told FIJ.
Concerned graduands who spoke with our reporter described the arrangement made by the university management as “exploitative”. They also said the management is not transparent enough in dealing with certificate collection.
“This is clearly a case of extortion,” said one of the graduands, who asked not to be named for fear of his certificate being withdrawn.
“This is really not proper. Why did they ask us to pay in the first place when they knew they couldn’t afford to deliver it to us? And they are still not refunding the money we already paid.”
Another graduand who also begged for anonymity said: “The process was created to deliberately structure a system that will bring bribery and kickbacks to some people. What will happen to those who paid and still had to transport themselves down to school to collect the certificate?”
Meanwhile, Tajudeen Olumokun, LASU’s Dean of Students Affairs, spoke sparingly with our reporter when contacted. He said he was not aware that students who paid for courier service delivery still had to come to the university premises to collect their certificates.
“It’s not true. It’s not correct. What we told them is that because of the Covid-19 protocol they should pay for courier service to deliver it to them,” he said.
But when asked about why graduands who paid for the courier service still had to come to the school to collect their certificates, he said: “I don’t know about that. I’m not aware.”
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