Joel Konopo and Queen Mosarwe
Embattled Kenyan – born business lecturer at Botswana Accountancy College (BAC) who obtained a PhD from a “post box” university in Malaysia is threatening a P1 million lawsuit against this publication claiming that a story questioning his academic record is inaccurate and defamatory.
His lawyers, Toteng and Company say the article lowered Andrew Anyona’s standing in the eyes of the public and demands an apology and a retraction, insisting that the Northern Ireland Institute of Business and Technology (NIIBT) British is accredited in Australia among other places. However, a fact-checking organization based in South African said the NIIBT British is a “degree mill” and is accredited by unrecognized bodies.
“I checked out the address they provide on Google Maps,” Africa Check editor, Anim van Wyk says. “It shows that 20 Adelaide Street hosts Premier Business Centres and that one of the services they provide is to act as a virtual office.”
Africa Check is a non-partisan organization that exists to promote accuracy in public debate and the media in Africa.
In an online posting, Richard Harriman of Consumer Watchdog says NIIBT does not appear on the company registers of either Britain or the Republic of Ireland.
Anyona acquired a PhD in 2010 from NIIBT. On the internet, NIIBT gives its address as Premier Business, 20 Adelaide Street, Belfast, GT2 8GT, Northern Ireland: However, a Google Earth search of this address does not show presence of any university.
Its Malaysian addresses, Harriman says, are “no more than post boxes.” Interestingly the university only shows four alumni and two testimonials all over its website.
Harriman comments that the Irish companies register records the existence of the Royal Ireland Institute of Business and Technology, but that this was dissolved in 2012.
The Botswana Gazette asked Anyona to supply a copy of his doctoral thesis. He responded that he was not obliged to make the thesis public.
He added that the degree was recognized by the Open University Europa, a member of the International Council for Open and Distance Education, but Africa Check challenged his assertion saying being listed on Open Education Europe does not mean that the University is accredited by them.
BAC said it followed a rigorous and transparent recruitment process when it employed the Kenyan in 2012. Responding to this publication, Anyona had also said NIIBT is “recognised” by Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU). However, Van Wyk squashed this claim saying that does not mean that NIIBT is a member of AAOU.
“Being an associate of the AAOU – for which you apply – also does not mean the university is accredited,” said Van Wyk. “The International Accreditation and Recognition Council is in itself a fake accreditation body.” AAOU had not responded to media questions by press time. According to the UK’s education department, as many as 200 institutions offer bogus degrees in Britain.
INK and The Botswana Gazette could find no evidence that NIIBT has a campus in Gambia, as claimed on its website. It did not respond to media questions sent more than a month ago.
In 2007 a British court jailed Gene Morrison, a fake police criminologist who claimed to have degree certificates from Rochville University, among other institutions.