By Femi Aribisala
Imagine a situation where you applied for a job in a bank, an oil company or any other organisation, and one of the requirements is your degree certificate. So you tell your prospective employers: “My certificates are with the military.” Do you think you will get the job, even in this Nigeria?
The answer is a capital “NO!” You stand no chance of getting the job. Your certificates are required to determine your suitability for the job. If your certificates are with the military, go and retrieve them from the military and submit them for inspection. If they are misplaced, you then have to apply to the examination board that awarded you the certificate to give you another copy.
This is the case with President Muhammadu Buhari, who is seeking re-election as president of Nigeria. Buhari ran for the presidency on three earlier occasions. On those occasions, he did not contravene any law with regard to his non-existent certificates because there were no provisions for them. However, with the new Electoral Act, there is now a requirement for proof of credentials.
But instead of providing his certificates to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as now required by law, Buhari deposed to an affidavit at a High Court in Abuja in 2015 that: “All my academic qualifications documents as filled in my presidential form, President APC/001/2015, are currently with the Secretary, Military Board as of the time of presenting this affidavit.”
Since that time, Buhari has not been able to collect his certificates from the military. He has made the same deposition again, four years later, claiming his certificates are with the military board. This affidavit turned out to be false in 2015, and it remains false today.
In 2015, the military board deposed that it does not have Buhari’s academic qualification credentials. That means Buhari committed perjury when he swore on oath that the military has them. As a matter of fact, the military board does not even have the photocopies of Buhari’s credentials because he did not submit them when he enrolled into the Nigerian Army.
It is possible that, as a retired general in the Nigerian Army, Buhari expected the military to cover his tracks by falsely backing him up on this. However, the Nigerian Army surprisingly refused to do so. Instead, the army released the following statement which quickly gave the lie to Buhari’s affidavit:
“It is a practice in the Nigerian Army that before candidates are shortlisted for commissioning into the officers’ cadre of the Service, the Selection Board verifies the original copies of credentials that are presented. However, there is no available record to show that this process was followed in the 1960s. Neither the original copy, Certified True Copy (CTC), nor statement of result of Major General M Buhari’s WASC result, is in his personal file.”
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo is also said to have debunked Buhari’s attempt to seek refuge in the military. He is quoted as saying: “President Muhammadu Buhari was my junior in the military rank, at school even if not same school but I presented my certificates to the INEC in 1999 and 2003, how come my own are not with the military?”
Guilty of Perjury
This denial by the Army that it has Buhari’s certificates means Buhari committed perjury when he swore on oath that the army has them. In the bid to repair this damage, Buhari cobbled together a press conference during which he said: “I had assumed all along that all my records were in the custody of the military secretary of the Nigerian Army. Much to my surprise, we are now told that although a record of the result is available, there are no copies of the certificates in my personal file.”
…the evidence suggests that what Buhari asked Government College, Katsina to present to INEC as evidence of his credentials was a forged certificate. According to Section 137 (10) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution: “A person shall not be qualified for election to the office of President if he has presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission.”
This excuse is hogwash. It not acceptable for a man to swear an oath in court based on assumptions “all along.” Oaths are sworn as certification that what is said is true. Truth is not amenable to assumptions. Section 118 of the Nigerian criminal code reads: “Any person who commits perjury is liable to imprisonment for fourteen years.”
It is because the Nigerian judiciary is a respecter of persons that candidate Buhari was allowed to violate this code, be above the law, and become president of the federal republic of Nigeria.
Buhari was the military secretary, Army Headquarters, from 1978-1979. Therefore, he must have known from experience that certified true copies of the credentials of military men are not kept with the military board. Nobody keeps the originals of their credentials with the organisations where they worked: only photocopies are kept there.
Having been thrown under the bus by the military brass, Buhari came up with another gambit. He declared that Provincial Secondary School, Katsina (now known as Government College, Katsina), which he attended over 50 years ago, would make available to the public the school’s copy of his Cambridge/WASC certificate.
If you want to confirm your exam credentials, you don’t write to your school asking for a copy of your result, you ask the relevant examinations council to provide you with a certified true copy of your result. Instead of Buhari to ask for his result from Cambridge/WASC, he asks for his primary school in Katsina to tell us his result.
The primary school then presented a result headlined “Katsina State Government,” when Katsina State did not even exist in 1961 when the result is alleged to have been given. As a matter of fact, what his primary school provided was not his academic qualification document. It provided what is ostensibly a photocopy. However, in law, you cannot authenticate a document by providing the photocopy. You must provide the original. The very fact that Buhari has not done this in four years suggests that these certificates may be non-existent.
The University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES), now known as Cambridge Assessment, affirms this position on its website: “We can only confirm or verify results at the direct request of or with the permission of a candidate. This is in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 and section 40 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.”
The document Government College, Katsina presented was dubious. It contained an obvious alteration in the Mathematics column, which effectively rendered it invalid. Indeed, the document itself states that: “any alteration or erasure renders this Statement of Results invalid.” Other anomalies evident in the statement included a recent photograph on an old document; a wrong name (Mohamed instead of Muhammad); and the absence of the principal’s name.
There are other nagging questions pertaining to the validity of the results published by the Katsina State government. Buhari’s principal expressed the expectation that he would do well and get certain grades in certain subjects. These expectations turned out to be virtually the mirror-image of Buhari’s alleged results. This suggests the likelihood that the Statement of Results from Katsina State was simply fabricated in order to fit in with the grades predicted by the principal.
In effect, the evidence suggests that what Buhari asked Government College, Katsina to present to INEC as evidence of his credentials was a forged certificate. According to Section 137 (10) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution: “A person shall not be qualified for election to the office of President if he has presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission.”
Today, President Buhari is no longer relying on the dubious certificate of Government College, Katsina. We are back to: “All my academic qualifications documents are currently with the Secretary, Military Board.” This is pathetic. The military debunked this claim in 2015, and it stands debunked today.
Forgery is implied in this case because the Katsina Ministry of Education issued the transcripts of an examination it did not conduct. The Ministry of Education, Katsina, did not conduct WASC exam in 1961. Therefore, the ministry could not have issued Buhari a WASCE certificate in 1961.
Today, President Buhari is no longer relying on the dubious certificate of Government College, Katsina. We are back to: “All my academic qualifications documents are currently with the Secretary, Military Board.” This is pathetic. The military debunked this claim in 2015, and it stands debunked today. The very fact that President Buhari has returned to this lame excuse suggests his school certificate is actually non-existent.
Kemi Adeosun resigned as Finance Minister because she did not have a NYSC certificate and submitted instead a forged document. Buhari should resign as president because he does not have a school-leaving certificate and also submitted a forged document. We cannot have one rule for Nigerians and another rule for Muhammadu Buhari. All must be equal under the law.
In the All Progressives Congress (APC), birds of the same feather flock together. After his re-election as governor of Edo State in 2012, it was discovered that the credentials of Adams Oshiomhole were fictitious. He claimed to have attended Iyamoh Primary School, Iyamoh, from 1957 to 1962. However, according to Edo State Ministry of Education, Iyamoh Primary School was founded in 1963; one year after Oshiomhole claimed he passed out from there.
Oshiomhole claimed under oath that he passed out from Blessed Martins Secondary Modern School in 1965. This cannot be true because Oshiomhole was born in 1952. The governor is not a genius, so there is no way he could have completed secondary school at the age of 13.
Oshiomhole’s name is not even on the primary and secondary school certificates he tendered to INEC. The name on these fictitious certificates is Adams Aliyu. His Adult Education certificate from Ahmadu Bello University also has Adams Aliyu, instead of Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole.
The same situation applies to Bola Tinubu, another APC kingpin. Tinubu claimed to have attended St. Paul’s School, Aroloya, Lagos; but the school never existed. He claimed to have attended Government College Ibadan (GCI) between 1965 and 1968. I was in GCI from 1962-1968, and Tinubu was not there. The Old Boys Association of GCI also debunked Tinubu’s claims.
Tinubu also claimed on his INEC form of 1999 that he attended Richard Daley College, Chicago between 1969 and 1971. There is no evidence of this. It is also not true that Tinubu attended University of Chicago between 1972 and 1976.
The case filed in court by Dominic Adegbola against Tinubu for perjury on these counts was struck out, not because these allegations are not true, but because the judge ruled that Adegbola failed to satisfy the mandatory requirements of the law that such application must be filed before the court within three months when the alleged fraudulent act was detected.
That technical line of defence might exonerate Tinubu in the court of law. But it does not exonerate him in the court of public opinion. In all this, the overwhelming evidence is that APC can hardly be described as a party of integrity.