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Fake Degrees: The Inside Story of Tinuade Sanda’s Dismissal from EKEDC

Tinuade Sanda, the ousted Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC), has been embroiled in controversy following her dismissal from the role by both Eko Disco and its parent company, West Power and Gas (WPG) Limited.

The cable reports that Sanda’s tenure at Eko Disco was remarkably short-lived, from her appointment in March 2022, where she became the third woman to lead in such a capacity within the Nigerian electricity distribution sector, following in the footsteps of Funke Osibodu of Benin Disco in 2013, and Folake Soetan from Ikeja Electric in 2020.

However, two years into her leadership, Sanda found herself at the center of an internal investigation into the veracity of her academic qualifications, which she said related to prestigious institutions around the world.

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The investigation culminated in a directive from the Nigerian Electricity Distribution Commission (NERC), which led to her recall to the parent company along with other staff members on March 25. Subsequently, WPG Limited formally terminated her employment on April 17, 2024, stating her no. longer is necessary for the position and the confirmation of her severance payment of three months’ salary.

The controversy mainly revolves around Sanda’s educational background

She had previously mentioned on her LinkedIn profile that she has a bachelor’s degree in applied sciences (BASc) from Harvard Business School and an MBA in strategic planning from the University of Edinburgh.

Furthermore, she claimed to have obtained a PhD in Financial Management and Entrepreneurship from the “University Management Science and Technology” in the Republic of Benin – a claim that was highlighted in a recent interview with Punch Newspaper where she called herself Dr. Tinuade Sanda mentioned.

Doubts about the authenticity of her PhD led TheCable to investigate further and discovered that the university’s website had expired and been taken offline, with only a surviving Instagram account actively advertising to potential Nigerian students.

The three-year B.Sc program advertised on this platform, notably shorter than the Nigerian standard and not requiring UTME results for admission, raised further questions.

Archival research through the Wayback Machine revealed that the university claimed permission from the Republic of Benin and recognition from the Nigerian Ministry of Higher Education. These claims were baseless because the National Universities Commission had no records of the institution, nor did the Ministry of Higher Education and the Ministry of Higher Education. Scientific research in the Republic of Benin lists it as one of the accredited universities.

Further investigation by TheCable into Sanda’s claim to a degree from Harvard Business School revealed that she had only completed a three-day course for executives, contrary to her claims of having obtained a degree.

Harvard Business School confirmed that it completed this short course in 2015 and emphasized that it only provided a certificate of attendance and did not grant degree status or alumni rights.

In addition, checks at the University of Edinburgh Business School, where Sanda’s LinkedIn profile originally claimed she was studying, also came up empty.

After inquiring, David McGregor, a digital communications officer at the university, questioned Heriot-Watt University, saying there was no record of her attendance.

Heriot-Watt University, while cautious about sharing information due to GDPR legislation, did not confirm or deny its presence.

In addition, Sanda’s claims to membership of professional bodies in the US and Britain also came into question

Checks with the Institute of Management Consultants in the US and the Institute of Professional Financial Managers in Britain turned up no data on its membership.

In the wake of these revelations, Sanda updated its LinkedIn page and changed its education listings from Harvard Business School to Harvard Business School Executive Education, and from the University of Edinburgh to Heriot-Watt University.

The story of Tinuade Sanda’s qualifications remains a developing story, with further investigations underway to unravel the full extent of the discrepancies in her public and professional claims.