Uche Modum, a well known professor at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) is at the center of an academic fraud case that has many members of the academic community buzzing with questions. Ms. Modum, who once served as a high-profile commissioner with the Nigerian Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), is accused of obtaining her professorship by making several false and questionable academic claims.
One of the sources at the university who said she was familiar with the case described Ms. Modum as “a walking academic fraud.” Another source asserted that Ms. Modum’s fraudulent claims would have earned her “instant sack or at least demotion,” but the source said the embattled academic was instead enjoying the protection of UNN authorities “because of her connection to the high and mighty at the university and beyond.”
In applying for elevation to the rank of professor, Ms Modum claimed that she had authored research publications in a highly reputable journal, Management Accounting. But her claims fell apart when the journal’s editor in chief, Kathy Williams, disclosed that a letter of interest purportedly written by the journal accepting two of Ms. Modum’s papers for publication was a fraud. The management of the journal specifically denied ever writing the said letter to Ms. Modum.
SaharaReporters obtained a copy of Ms. Williams’ letter.
A source close to the Vice Chancellor of the university, Barth Okolo, told our citizen reporter that Ms. Modum’s bogus claims were first exposed by her colleague and a former dean in the Faculty of Business Administration, Ugochukwu Uche.
One source told SaharaReporters that “Professor Modum and the powers-that-be at this university are working to cover up what is a clear case of fraud.” The source added that, instead of acknowledging the fact that Ms. Modum actually obtained promotion by embellishing her credentials, some university authorities seemed determined to shield her whilst targeting the whistle blower with reprisals.
The university authorities reportedly ordered Mr. Uche, the former dean and Ms. Modum’s accuser, to recant and apologize to Ms. Modum. Several lecturers told SaharaReporters that they were appalled by the university’s demand. Two of them stated that they supported the former dean who has reportedly refused to bow to pressure to withdraw his petition against Ms. Modum. Mr. Uche has protested to the university authorities.
Another lecturer said he had never “seen anything like this.” According to her, “The glaring cases of fraud that Professor Ugochukwu Uche discovered in Professor Modum’s qualifications have an impact on her ability to discharge her duties as a lecturer. So why is the vice chancellor not taking the case seriously?”
A source close to Mr. Uche said the whistle blowing former dean was shocked when he received a gag order after he presented the university council with a plethora of evidence regarding Ms. Modum’s knowingly false academic claims.
When SaharaReporters contacted a lecturer who is a known public supporter of Ms. Modum, he initially hung up his phone. But when our citizen reporter made a subsequent call, the lecturer pleaded not to be quoted. Then he disclosed that the embattled professor was “a very powerful woman and well-connected who made a mistake. It’s too late for her to correct herself.”
Several of our sources spoke about Ms. Modum’s perceived influence and power, indicating that many lecturers deplored her false claims but remained silent for fear of incurring her wrath. Two of them accused the VC of UNN of engaging in a cover up in order to protect Ms. Modum.
In addition to making false claims about her academic publications, Ms. Modum’s CV also revealed a trail of other misrepresentations. She claimed to have graduated from Wilberforce University, Ohio. While the US-based University affirmed that one Uche Okonkwo did graduate from the school, the date of birth the university has on file is different from what Ms. Modum later presented as her date of birth. Attempts to reach Ms. Modum to explain some of these discrepancies were unsuccessful, since her phone was switched off.
According to one of the lecturers, “The motto of this university is, ‘Restore the Dignity of Man.’ It is a shame that the university now accommodates and protects somebody whose academic claims are open to question.”