Five persons who were found to be in possession of a human skull are to share a total of 69 years in a correctional facility after being convicted and sentenced by Minna Chief Magistrate Court Number Two, Tunga.
They were sentenced and convicted by Chief Magistrate Fati Umar Hassan after they were found guilty of three counts of criminal conspiracy, trespass on burial grounds, and unlawful possession of a human skull.
According to police prosecutor Inspector Mua'azu Abdullahi, the three counts charges were punishable under sections 97, 213 and 219 of the penal code law, respectively.
The convicts included Ibrahim Jiya, Suleiman Usman, Abdullahi Usman, Idris Mohammed, and Isah Mohammed, all from Sakpe village in the Edati Local Government Area of Niger State.
The police prosecutor had told the court that they were arrested by the police in the Bida Area Command Office after the case was reported and transferred to the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID) for a discrete investigation.
He further told the court that they were caught with a Bagco bag containing a human skull, and during the police investigation, both of them confessed to the police that they met one unknown herbalist in Minna, who contacted them to produce a human skull to be used for money-making ritual purposes to make them rich.
"And in turn, I informed and promised all the convicts of the same address that they would share the wealth from the said criminal activity and contacted them to look for the human skull, and they trespassed inside the Muslim cemetery in Nasarafu village.
"You proceeded to dig a grave in the cemetery and dug the human skull of one late Yan Ndako Daniya, who died three years ago, and during the police investigation, you all confessed to the crime", the charges read.
When the three counts of charges were read to them by the presiding Chief Magistrate, Hajiya Fati Umar Hassan, they all pleaded guilty to all the charges.
At this point, the prosecutor, Inspector Mua'azu Abdullahi, prayed to the court to invoke the provisions of Section 157 of the Criminal Procedure Code on them through a summary trial and convict them accordingly.
While passing her judgement, Hajiya Fati Umar Hassan sentenced each of them to 12 years on the three-count charges without the option of a fine or hard labour.
The National Universities Commission (NUC) has disowned the National Board for Technical Education (NBTE) top-up programme, claiming to bridge the gap between polytechnic and university degrees.
This is contained in a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja on Saturday by the acting executive secretary of the commission, Chris Maiyaki.
Recall that for years, there have been calls from stakeholders to end the disparity between higher national diplomas (HND) offered by polytechnics and bachelor degrees offered by universities.
This brought about a bill passed at the ninth National Assembly in 2021 to end the dichotomy, but it was not signed into law by the last administration.
The NBTE, which regulates technical and vocational education, has unveiled what it describes as a one-year top-up programme that offers a platform for HND holders to level up towards obtaining a bachelor’s degree.
Maiyaki, however, called on the general public and all relevant Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs) to note that the NUC is not a party to the top-up scheme.
“Even though agitation continues to grow for the abolition of the dichotomy in Nigeria, there is, at the moment, no law that has removed the dichotomy between a university degree and the HND.
“The place of technical education the world over is unique.
“The university degree awarded by the Nigerian university system or any cognate institution is not the same as the HND awarded by polytechnics in Nigeria.
“In the Nigerian higher education space, the processes, contents, and methods required for the acquisition of a university degree are substantially different from those needed for HND programmes,” he said.
He noted that at the post-graduate level, the requirements for admission into any masters degree programme for HND holders are, among others, the acquisition of a relevant postgraduate diploma (PGD) from a recognised university.
“The unsuspecting general public and all relevant ministries, departments, and agencies should note that the NUC is not a party to and, indeed, disavows the so-called top-up scheme being concocted by the NBTE.
“In light of the above, the advice of the NUC is that the NBTE should focus on its core mandate, desist from introducing programmes outside its jurisdiction, and not be supported by any law in Nigeria.
“The NUC wishes to inform the management of the NBTE and the general public that the “Bill for an Act to abolish and prohibit dichotomy and discrimination between first degree and higher national diploma in the same profession or field for the purpose of employment and for related matters"
“The bill passed by the 9th National Assembly in 2021 is yet to be assented to by Mr. President and Commander-in-Chief of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
”So, although agitation continues to grow for the abolition of the dichotomy in Nigeria, there is, at the moment, no law that has removed the dichotomy between a university degree and the HND.
Both the NUC Establishment Law (CAP N81, LFN, 2004) and its Operational Law: Education (National Minimum Standards and Establishment of Institutions) Act (CAP E3 LFN, 2004) vest in the Commission the powers to superintend and regulate university education in Nigeria.
“Lay down minimum academic standards in the nation’s universities and other degree-awarding institutions, and accredit their programmes. Thus, the commission is the only constitutionally empowered regulatory agency for university education in Nigeria,” he said.
Maiyaki argued that in most higher education systems, polytechnics coexist side by side with universities for the purposes of producing critical human resources, based on their peculiarities and in tandem with the goals for which they were established.