You are here
Who Probes the Probers?
In a very Trinidadian, and very pre-Carnival-week twist, one of the commissioners of the commission of enquiry into the 1990 attempted coup has turned out to need some probing himself. The Guardian on Wednesday broke Anika Gumbs-Sandiford’s story that soon-to-be-former commissioner Dr Hafizool Mohammed had actually bought his doctorate (the Guardian used the word “obtained”) from Atlantic International University & Diploma Mill. (I added on the last bit to the AIU’s name.)
In the kind of believe-it-or-not statement that Ripley himself might have suspected, “Dr” Mohammed even said he knew the AIU&DM was not accredited in the USA which, if you think about it, is quite an honest kind of dishonesty (assuming, in the first place, that you think it is dishonest to gain something called a degree without doing anything resembling scholarly work, which is definitely not a safe assumption in Trinidad where the bulk of Pentecostal preacher-doctors of divinity have “qualified” in the same way, which is to say, have not qualified at all).
But the Guardian story showed that a doubtful doctorate was only the tip of “Professor” Mohammed’s reputation iceberg since the “prestigious military university” “Governor” Mohammed claims to have earned his masters degree at has never heard of anyone with his name. The associate registrar of the American Military University told the Guardian that no student with the name Hafizool Mohammed, spelled in that fashion, had ever been on its student database.
The AMU did admit, though, that they could not rule out a name change: there is a possibility that coup attempt commissioner “Senator” Hafizool Mohammed is a bona fide alumnus of the AMU, but his name is not on the roll because it changed after graduation, perhaps through marriage or shahada; indeed, the Guardian might have missed a further investigative opportunity: had Anika Gumbs-Sandiford dug deeper, she might have discovered that Dr Hafizool Mohammed was once Dr Jane De Verteuil, before she married, or Dr Jairam Patel, before he declared his belief in Allah; and, additionally, there is every possibility, as we shall come to see, that Duckter Hafeezul Muhammud misspelled his own name.
Just when you think the story could not possibly get sillier, it promptly does: the personal referees on “Ambassador” Mohammed’s CV include the late Sir Ellis Clarke, though, in a spell of unprovoked and uncharacteristic truthfulness, “Dr” Mohammed appears to have conceded that, at the time of the preparation of the curriculum vitae which presumably helped him to be chosen as a commissioner, his most distinguished personal referee, Sir Ellis, happened to be dead: the Guardian reports that “Dr” Mohammed reported, in brackets, that this referee was, in fact, deceased.
The Guardian story does not disclose how the person preparing the list of potential commissioners was meant to have contacted Sir Ellis; perhaps it was through one of “Premier” Mohammed’s former classmates at the AIU&DM, who may have bought himself a doctorate in spirit communications with the netherworld: to hold a seance seems, on the evidence of “Dr” Mohammed’s qualifications for his post as commissioner, just as sensible as to hold a commission of enquiry.
But the late Sir Ellis was not even the most troublesome personal referee to get hold of! Dead though he indubitably was, at all material times, Sir Ellis at least surely existed once, which cannot be said of another of “Commander” Mohammed’s referees. In a manner that you might call “cavalier,” except that it is probably one of the many titles an AIU&DM doctorate allows “Monsignor” Mohammed to use (he just hasn’t started using them yet), “Dr” Mohammed listed a fictional former Turkish president as someone who might vouch for him; unsurprisingly by now, perhaps, the former non-existent Turkish president, was also deceased. Turkey has never had a president, living or dead, called Ahmet Haluk Ozbuddun, but who knew that in Trinidad? (Certainly not “Dr” Mohammed.)
You would have thought someone with a master’s degree in national security studies from a top-ranking university that never heard of him would have the sense to realise that a dead invented ex-Turkish president might be fairly easily discovered to be non-existent, or at least dead. You might also have thought that someone upon whom a country was relying to enquire into one of its most challenging events, the 1990 coup, would be smart enough to know when he was casually exposing himself to the risk of exposure. If you were making up personal contacts with cabinet ministers who had never heard of you, or had met you only once in a “cocktails-party,” you might at least get their portfolios right.
But then you would be operating somewhere other than in Trinidad, where it doesn’t matter what you know—like anything at-firetrucking-all about national security studies—but who you know, like which joker in Cabinet is prepared to stick his neck out for another prankster. Because, in Trinidad, there is neither public accountability nor private conscience, so the most important of public roles are easily reduced to just another way of channelling some state money to a pardner. If the lotto is rigged, you only need a counterfeit ticket to win. Colour him national security specialist and give him the joesey and the 30 grand a month.
Even in Trinidad, though, it is inconceivable that “Dr” Mohammed will not now be sacked; but he is lucky: a man so titularly fluid should easily segue into the identity of the Mighty Mohammed and, if he just adds some rum to his own CV, he has an instant $2 million winning chutney song.
BC Pires is counsel to the commission of sins. E-mail your fake breasts to him at [email protected].
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.