By Amin Kef-Ranger
In a Media Release dated 5th August 2022 released by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) the anti-graft entity stated that furtherance to its support to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education (MTHE), and other partner stakeholders in the verification of the credentials of public officers in Sierra Leone, it has concluded investigations on the degrees, certificates and other academic credentials of Braima Ronnie Kargbo, the Director of Administration and Human Resources of the National Telecommunications Commission (NATCOM) and other staff, following allegations that they submitted fake academic credentials to attain their respective positions.
According to the ACC, firstly, with regards to Braima Ronnie Kargbo, it focused on Njala University College, as it was called then, where the said staff is said to have attained the minimum qualification for his role while verification continues on other credentials attained overseas.
It continued that its investigators interviewed the Registrar of both the University of Sierra Leone and the Registrar of Njala University and many other interested persons – including the retired Professor who supervised his Dissertation, his former classmates, etc.
The investigation, the ACC said, confirms the following: That there are progressive grades record from first year (1992) to final Year (1999) which contained grades for a student named ‘Braima Kargbo’ for the Degree of Bachelor of Science in Agriculture General in the Second Division, with Distinction in Project and was awarded in 1999; and that the degree submitted by “Braima Ronnie Kargbo” bears the name ‘Briama Kargbo’ (Note the Name differentials).
That a cumulative transcript issued in 2002 contains a student name ‘Braima Ronnie Kargbo’ with grades and student Identification Number (ID) 5334 of a student who studied for the Degree of Bachelor of Science in Agriculture General from 1992 to 1999 (Undergraduate Record Card from Njala University College, University of Sierra Leone).
The ACC said but there is no continuous record for the name ‘Braima Ronnie Kargbo’ at the University student archives. Moreover, there is neither any document nor any explanation proving a change of name from “Braima Kargbo” to ‘Braima Ronnie Kargbo’.
That the student ID Number 5334 which is claimed by ‘Braima Ronnie Kargbo’ is the same to the Student ID Number 5334 of ‘Braima Kargbo’ in the Njala University, College Summary of Final Year Grades 1998/1999.
That NATCOM received a BSc Degree in the name of ‘Briama Kargbo’ and an MBA in the name of ‘Braima Ronnie Kargbo’ in respect of an application for the position of Director, Administration and Human Resources at NATCOM by ‘Braima Ronnie Kargbo’, and that an Offer of Appointment Letter was given for the position to Braima Ronnie Kargbo.
The ACC underscored that despite questions surrounding the name, which we have thoroughly investigated, and neither the Njala University nor the Braima Ronnie Kargbo could adequately clarify, there is evidence to show that a Braima Kargbo attended and/or completed his studies for a BSc Degree in Agriculture General, at Njala University College (though there was eventually a clear spelling error on the certificate and the same has not been corrected to date).
Based on its investigation, the ACC discovered that there has also been several records and evidence, as listed below, which support the claim that Braima Ronnie Kargbo did attend Njala University College adding that with anomalies on the spelling of his name the ACC said he and the university have failed to explain stating that they lost their records due to displacement of the University during the war.
The ACC stated that his (Braima Ronnie Kargbo) graduation photographs as evidence of graduation from Njala University College clearly show him shaking hands with President Kabba at the Fourah Bay College together with other students.
Interviews which the ACC said it conducted with other classmates positively confirmed his attendance with them and a copy of his Dissertation was obtained from him and the University.
His supervisor, Professor Abdulai Jalloh, a former Lecturer at Njala University College, confirmed the supervision and conclusion of his Degree.
The ACC claimed that there is evidence that the name ‘Braima Kargbo’ did attend Njala University College from 1992 and graduated in 1999 but the investigation could not disprove that the Braima Kargbo that attended Njala University College was not Brima Ronnie Kargbo, the Director of Administration of NATCOM, despite all efforts and attempts, the University cannot trace and provide the Matriculation Booklet/Register of 1992 signed by students upon their enrollment into the college because of their displacement and return due to war and they lost many records in the process.
According to the ACC, the availability of such foundational record could have helped to establish whether a different ‘Braima Ronnie Kargbo’ was admitted into Njala University College that year and signed the College Register.
In conclusion the ACC said, without any evidence to the contrary, Braima Ronnie Kargbo would have to benefit from the doubts raised and that the above findings and limitations have blurred the clarity of the evidence trail to such an extent that it is difficult to conclude that the Braima Kargbo that was awarded the BSc Degree in Agriculture General with Distinction in project at Njala University in 1999 is not the same Braima Ronnie Kargbo at NATCOM and it has therefore communicated its conclusion to the Management of NATCOM.
With regard Adeyemi Leroy Coker, the ACC stated how it accepts the recommendation of the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) on the status of Degrees conferred by the African Graduate University (AGU) and directs that NATCOM should administratively do the needful if he was employed or promoted on the presentation of the AGU Degree and/or Certificate as those have been said to be null and void by the TEC.
In respect of Robert Kondema Kargbo’s appointment, there were no set academic qualifications for his position as Commissioner of NATCOM (Representing Civil Society) apart from it being by Presidential appointment and subject to Presidential Prerogative.
The ACC said, he however possesses a Diploma in Peace and Conflict Studies from Milton Margai College of Education and that he denies presenting African Graduate University documents for Parliamentary vetting and Parliament did not provide them evidence to dispute that claim.
The anti-graft entity stated how it will continue to update the public on investigations concluded into individuals and institutions alleged to have ‘fake degrees/certificates and have been conferred an advantage within the meaning of the ACC Act.