The management of the Department of Economics of the Taraba State University has been accused of colluding with class representatives to facilitate the extortion of Post Graduate students and failing to release results of semester exams conducted since 2018 while students advance in their studies.
FIJ gathered from the pioneer students of the Masters in Economics that the programme which commenced fully in 2018 had become an illegal money-raking venture for officials of the department, headed by Professor Nathaniel Oke Eriemo and the class representatives, Hosea Rimande and Dr Grace Ahams Akor.
During the internal presentation of theses, more than 55 students were forced to pay N10,000, amounting to N550,000 for the ‘entertainment’ of internal examiners. Receipts were not issued for this payment.
“The school authorities did not recommend any amount for the so-called entertainment. But what happened was that the money was shared among the lecturers. There is a collusion between the Head of Department and the class representatives to extort students,” one of the students who asked for anonymity for fear of wittch-hunt, told FIJ.
In addition to a mandatory payment of N30,500 to the university, students were ordered to pay N50,000 each for the entertainment and logistics of external examiners during theses presentation. No receipt was issued for the latter payment, FIJ was told.
“That is N2,750,000 if each student pays N50,000. The school, through class representatives, said that if this amount was not paid, the school’s system would delay the coming of external examiners, so payment should be made to fast-track the logistics to bring the examiners,” said another student.
“Little emphasis was placed on the N30,500 that goes to the school. Hosea Rimmande, the class representative, only emphasised the N50,000 fee that goes to the department’s pocket illegally. Each student was illegally asked to pay 85,000; this is not fair,” another anonymous source told FIJ.
When FIJ contacted Hosea Rimmande for comments, he only resorted to insults, accusations and a threat text message.
“Mr. Journalism or whatever you call your name, I don’t know what you are talking about. As far as I’m concerned, MSc and PhD cost money and you don’t expect to come to school and fold your hands and just collect certificate and go away,” Rimmande said.
“There are things we do that students agree that we should do and it is done everywhere. Whatever payment we made is to help ourselves and the department… Mr man, this is the last time you should call me over this issue.”
Rimmande later sent a threat: “Copper (sic) Adeola I know you; be very careful over your investigating (sic) journalism. Look for proper story please. Be warned.”
Grace Akor, the assistant class representative, refuted allegations of colluding with the Head of the Department of Economics to extort her colleagues. She insisted that all students agreed to pay the amounts.
The students also expressed fear that results of two semesters of class work that commenced in January 2018 may have been manipulated, as the department refused to release results two years after that section of the Masters Programme ended.
“If results were out, students would know their fate — whether to proceed or withdraw. Everyone continued with their class work and proceeded to research work not knowing whether they passed the latter or not,” another student said, asking to not be named.
Professor Eriemo did not respond to FIJ when asked for comments. He was aggressive when the asked why students in his department were asked to pay N50,000 for the entertainment of external examiners.
“Is that what your journalism thought you? Come to the office,” Eriemo said and ended the call.
Professor Peter Oronto, the dean of School of Post Graduate Studies of the University, said results would be released when they were ready.
“If we don’t issue results, how will they graduate? If the results were ready, they would be presented to the board of the post graduate school,” Oronto said. “I will have to investigate the allegation of extortion; we’ll have to find out from the head of department concerned.”
Be the first to receive special investigative reports and features in your inbox.