A case of plagiarism has gone badly for a lecturer at the Kenyatta University in Nairobi, Kenya as the university has revoked the PhD awarded to the lecturer once it established that his PhD thesis was duplication of the thesis by another academic at Usmanu Danfodiyo University in Sokoto, Nigeria.
The story which does not appear to have made the headlines in Nigeria yet has, however, done so in Kenya where one of the country’s leading newspapers, The Nation splashed Prof Paul Wainaina, Vice-Chancellor of Kenyatta University’s statement to that effect. According to The Nation, the VC said the university has also discontinued the lecturer who taught in the social sciences department and who has since surrendered the original doctorate degree certificate issued to him when he was thought to have sweated for a PhD.
Why the unnamed lecturer chose to look in the direction of far away UDU in Nigeria would remain a puzzle for investigation just as the title of the thesis that was plagiarized and the UDU lecturer who was being cheated. It is most likely the thief of intellectual content thought that UDU is too far away from the world of technology as for a thesis there to have been captured in the memory of plagiarism indicator checker technology. He has been proved totally wrong.
Problem started for the lecturer whose name was not disclosed by The Nation when a senior lecturer (most likely of Kenyatta University) sent an email to Kenyatta University alleging plagiarism against the Kenyatta University lecturer who has now been caught out. That was in March 2019, seven months after the fraudster had been awarded a PhD on August 4th, 2018.
Investigations followed immediately with the constitution of a committee by the Vice-Chancellor to review the validity of the claims. By September 19th, 2019, the Kenyatta University lecturer’s fate had been sealed following the submission of the committee’s report on April 12th, 2019 and its establishment of evidence considered overwhelming against the suspect. In The Nation’s narrative of the VC’s statement, “The investigations established that the lecturer and a staffer in his department had colluded to circumvent the internal KU (Kenyatta University) mechanism where all thesis are subjected to anti-plagiarism software check when the same is turned in. Even though the thesis had failed the plagiarism check, the staffer had given the thesis the green light”.
Already, the unnamed lecturer’s degree has not only been annulled, he has been ordered to return the original certificate and the university has confirmed that by saying the original of the certificate is now in its custody, meaning the culprit has lost everything.
According to The Nation, the Commission for University Education (CUE) is with the Kenyatta University over the punishment, saying in a statement by Mwenda Ntarangwi, CUE’s Chief Executive Officer that the “revocation was done as part of the KU, (Kenyatta University)’s internal quality assurance process which we applaud”.
The action of Kenyatta University appears to have ignited ripples across the country as the paper has also reported another of Kenya’s universities – Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture (JKUAT) – as reviewing 118 PhDs it awarded to students in June this year, after investigation by CUE revealed massive irregularities. This, it says, followed a July deadline of three months for the university to meet and review the PhDs and submit to CUE evidence of the students’ publication of two articles in referred journals for each PhD awarded and the threat of recall of all such PhD until its fulfillment by the affected graduands. In the paper’s memory, the CUE revoked PhD awarded to some five students in 2016 by Kisii University in December 2014.
“We will always respond swiftly to incidents where academic fraud has been alleged and take action. The integrity of the certificate issued by Kenyatta University must always be protected and we will always endeavor to uphold the highest academic standards and ethics”. That is Prof Wainaina, VC of KU as quoted in The Nation, a statement no longer necessary as, with the punishment of plagiarism, the university has clearly taken itself out of the club of universities turning the other eye to cases of plagiarism, the capital offence in academia.