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Senior Lecturer In Nigerian Varsity Whose PhD Thesis Was Plagiarized By Kenyatta University Don Speaks

Dr Aisha Balarabe Bawa, senior lecturer at Usmanu Danfodiyo University in Sokoto, Nigeria. [Photo/Courtesy]

In September 2019, Kenyatta University hit headlines after it dismissed one of its lecturers for plagiarizing a PhD thesis of a Nigerian don.

Well, Kahawa Tungu has learnt that the said lecturer is Amos Kariuki Ngaruiya, who worked at the History Department in Kenyatta University.

Ngaruiya had his PhD revoked after the committee which was formulated to investigate the plagiarism complaint confirmed that there was “overwhelming evidence” of plagiarism against the lecturer.

“The certificate has been returned and is in the custody of the University. The lecturer appeared before a student disciplinary committee on the same matter on Thursday, September 19th 2019 and was discontinued,” Kenyatta University’s Vice-Chancellor Prof Paul Wainaina said in a statement.

The complaint was lodged in 2018 by Dr Aisha Balarabe Bawa, a Senior Lecturer in the Department of History Usman Danfodiyo University, Sokoto.

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Kahawa Tungu understands that the thesis that Ngaruiya was accused of plagiarizing was on the history of First Ladies in Nigeria and the accused only changed the country to Kenya.

His thesis title read ‘The Transformation of the Institution of First Ladies in Kenya’, while that of Dr Bawa was ‘Women in the Corridor of Power: A History of Nigerian First Ladies in Governance 1966-2015′.

On stumbling on the material on the internet, Dr Bawa says, she was at first “impressed knowing that Kenya also acknowledges that this area hasn’t been developed.”

However, she was shocked to learn that the KU lecturer had copied most of her content including the acknowledgement page.

“The only difference was that he acknowledged different people from mine but it was the only difference. I went ahead to open the abstract section and again, noticed the same language I used, I now went into the table of content similar structures, but where I put Nigeria, it would be replaced with Kenya, ” she said in a recent interview with a Nigerian news outlet.

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She accused Ngaruiya of intellectual fraud as she could not understand why someone who was writing about Kenyan history could borrow content from her interviews with First Ladies in Nigeria.

Ngaruiya allegedly copied content from Dr Bawa’s interviews with Ms Maryam Abacha, the widow of Sani Abacha, de facto President of Nigeria from 1993 to 1998. She wonders why he didn’t care to acknowledge the author.

“Most of the materials I used, he used them without acknowledging the sources and when I checked the references, I found out that a lot of materials which I got – interviews, for example with Mrs Maryam Abacha. I had the opportunity in the course of my research to stay with Mrs Maryam Abacha for almost a week at her house. She gave me lots of documents which she had in her possession for me to use, ” said Dr Bawa.

“I also interacted with a lot of people that she worked with during her tenure as First Lady. All those documents reflected in his references which I very well knew he couldn’t have had access to except through my work.”

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She wrote to the Univesity on March 15, 2018. The email was directed to the Dean Graduate School in the person of Professor Elishiba Kimani

In the email, Dr Bawa attached her thesis. she was confident that Ngaruiya had copied her work as she graduated in 2015 while the KU lecturer was awarded the PhD certificate in 2018.

The university responded after three days and promised to probe the matter.

True to their word, the committee that was looking into the claims found out that the lecturer had colluded with one an official at the University who helped him “circumvent the internal KU mechanism where all thesis are subjected to anti-plagiarism software.”

“Even though the thesis had failed the plagiarism check, the staffer had given the thesis the green light,” said Prof Wainaina.

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The Nigerian don concluded the interview by saying that she was glad “judgement has been passed, and punishment has been given to this type of issue, academic fraud.”

“I know what I went through to be able to develop my thesis. I know how much resources I used to get to these first ladies. More so the issue of interviews in History, we conduct field interviews into rural areas. I interviewed rural women. I interviewed elite women. Imagine women in the legislative house, how do you get access to them?” she posed.

“I stayed in Abuja in a hotel, they would give you an appointment, and they would tell you that they have one commitment or the other, so you have to wait. Imagine people like Femi Falana; I was asked to interview him. I know what I went through to see this type of people. So, for someone to steal my hard-earned labour, I felt very relieved over the verdict given by the Kenyatta University. It shows that universities are taking issues of plagiarism very seriously and with that, it has served as a pointer to others.”

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Written by Kahawa Tungu


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