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REVEALED: How Tinuade Sanda, sacked EKO Disco MD, falsely claimed degrees from Edinburgh, Harvard universities

REVEALED: How Tinuade Sanda, sacked EKO Disco MD, falsely claimed degrees from Edinburgh, Harvard universities
May 03
13:30 2024

Tinuade Sanda, the former managing director and chief executive officer of Eko Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC), has been in the news for controversial reasons over the past few weeks. She was sacked by Eko Disco and West Power and Gas (WPG) Limited in one month.

In March 2022, Sanda was appointed the managing director of Eko Disco, becoming the third woman to lead in this capacity in the industry — after Funke Osibodu of Benin Disco (2013) and Folake Soetan of Ikeja Electric (2020). 

Two years into her appointment, Sanda, who claims to have been educated across the world, became the subject of an internal investigation at the company.  

On March 25, Dere Otubu, chairman of the board of directors at Eko Disco, announced the recall of Sanda based on a directive from the Nigerian Electricity Distribution Commission (NERC). She was recalled to the parent company alongside other WPG staff.

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Backing the decision of the board of directors at EKEDC, West Power and Gas (WPG), the parent company of Eko Disco, announced that it had also fired Sanda. 

“We hereby advise you that your services are no longer required and accordingly your employment with WPG Ltd is hereby terminated effective April 17, 2024, in accordance with clause 10.2 of the Contract,” the company said in a letter to Sanda.

“WPG Ltd is obligated to pay you three months salary in lieu of notice and hereby advise you that the due amounts have been credited to your account.”

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ALLEGED EDUCATION FRAUD BY SANDA

Concerns have been raised in recent media publications about Sanda’s widely touted educational qualifications and potential deceit while at the company.

According to her LinkedIn page, the embattled MD had initially claimed that she holds a Bachelor’s degree in applied science (BASc) from Harvard Business School and an MBA in Strategic Planning from the University of Edinburgh.

She also claims to have earned a PhD in Benin Republic. 

PhD from ‘non-existent’ university 

Her public profile claims she holds PhD in financial management and entrepreneurship from “University Management Science and Technology, Benin Republic”. In an interview with Punch Newspaper, she said she “bagged a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Financial Management and Entrepreneurship from the Icon University of Management Science and Technology, Benin Republic, in December 2020”, therefore presenting herself as Dr. Tinuade Sanda.

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To verify this, TheCable contacted the university to check the authenticity of the PhD and found that the institution’s website domain had expired and the university had been taken offline.

What is left online of the said university is an Instagram account where it markets itself to potential students, especially Nigerians. The university offers a B.Sc in three years, as against the standard four years in Nigeria, and interestingly, does not require UTME results for admissions.

The university’s Instagram account advertising admission 

Website taken offline: A screenshot of the university’s website in April 2024

To further verify the state of the university’s website before it was taken down, we used Wayback Machine, an internet archive tool, to extract information.

According to this archived webpage, the university claims it has the “Authorization No: 2014-049 MESRS/CAB/DC/SCM/DPP/DGES/DEPES/SA” in the Republic of Benin and is “recognized by Ministry of higher Education of Nigeria (sic)”. 

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We found no record of Nigeria’s Ministry of Education approving such a university. We have since contacted the National Universities Commission, but there was no response as of press time. However, the list of accredited universities on the NUC website does not include ICON University.

TheCable obtained a list of all accredited universities by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research in Benin Republic, and the ICON University was not listed. The ministry also published a list of approved private universities in the country in December 2020, about the time of Sanda’s graduation, and the university was missing. 

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There is also no evidence that ICON University is accredited in Nigeria and the Benin Republic. 

We also extracted the names of the management team at the university and found that many of them could not be found. According to the now-deleted website, the management team comprises Maria D. Smith, Simon Duval, James Hogan and Claudia Williams. 

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There is no digital footprint of any of these purported professors and no academic records to support their existence as the management team at the said university.

A screenshot showing the list of accredited universities in Benin Republic.

See the full document here.

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Sanda misleads about degree from Harvard Business School

To verify her degree from Harvard Business School, we reached out to the institution. 

Responding to our queries, the office of the registrar at Harvard Business School said Sanda did not bag a degree from the highly-rated institution. However, HBS confirmed that she attended a three-day executive course nine years ago. 

A screenshot of the response from Harvard Business School

Tinuade Sanda participated in an Executive Education course,” HBS said via email.

The business school added that she undertook the three-day programme in “Strategic Financial Analysis for Business Evaluation” from March 29 to April 1, 2015, receiving a “Certificate of Attendance”. 

“Please note that HBS Executive Education only offers non-degree programs. Certificates of attendance are awarded to participants upon completion of the program and do not grant degrees or alumni status for the program mentioned above,” HBS added. 

Here is a list of degrees awarded by Harvard Business School.

Since the sack by Eko Disco, Sanda’s LinkedIn page has been edited, removing some of the previously listed educational qualifications. 

For instance, Harvard Business School has been changed to Harvard Business School Executive Education and University of Edinburgh has been changed to Heriot-Watt University as seen below.

No record of studentship at University of Edinburgh

Following our findings with ICON University and HBS, TheCable contacted the University of Edinburgh Business School, which Sanda’s LinkedIn page initially claimed she attended.

David McGregor, a digital communication officer at the University of Edinburgh, said Sanda did not attend the institution, suggesting that we contact Heriot-Watt University. 

Heriot-Watt, which offers a 100% online MBA, did not confirm nor deny Sanda’s attendance but simply said: “To comply with GDPR legislation, we are not able to release personal information.”

Sanda also claimed to be a certified member of the Institute of Management Consultants in the United States and an associate of the Institute of Professional Financial Managers in the UK. We checked the published directories of both institutes and found no record of such membership. 

TheCable mailed both institutes to confirm what we had found from their published directories, but no response has been received more than a week after the emails were sent.

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