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Monday, January 5, 2015

issues arising on Buhari's certificate

CONTROVERSY continued to rage, at
the weekend, over the original
certificates of the presidential
candidate of the All Progressives
Congress (APC), General
Muhammadu Buhari .
While the General had sworn to an
affidavit at an Abuja High Court to
indicate that his certificates are with
the military authorities, the military
said it does not have the original
certificates.
"The original certificate of any
officer or soldier is only needed at
the point of entry into the service,
either as a cadet officer entering the
Nigerian Defence Academy, or when
being interviewed as recruits to be
sent to the depot for training.
"That is so because they are needed
to verify what were in the
photocopies supplied by them or
from the necessary examining
bodies," the military had said at the
weekend.
The Director, Army Public Relations,
Brigadier-General Olajide Laleye,
also said at the weekend that the
army did not keep original copies of
certificates of its officers, whether
serving or retired.
"Every serving and retired army
officer has, at least, a copy of his
certificates and credentials kept in
the Nigerian Army, while that same
serving and retired officer has copies
of those same certificates and
credentials.
"And there is a laid-down procedure
to request for certificates. It is
known to any serving and retired
officer.
"If you want anything checked in
your file, you simply follow the due
process and it would be given to
you, because the credentials belong
to you," he said.
Laleye added that, "the Nigerian
Army does not refuse to give
anybody his credentials if the due
process is followed. Now, take note
of this. Not only does the Nigerian
Army keep these things, the
individual officers, whether serving
or retired, have copies."
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP),
on Sunday, however, said the
General already had too much
baggage to carry, adding that the
opposition could go ahead to field a
man who would surely be defeated
by PDP.
PDP's spokesman, Chief Olisa Metuh,
in an interview with the Nigerian
Tribune, said the party was not
bothered if the opposition party
wanted to go ahead to field a man
like Buhari, who had too many
liabilities.
Also on Sunday, Minister of State for
Works, Mr Dayo Adeyeye, insisted
that General Buhari must prove his
innocence in the certificate saga, by
producing his original certificates.
He stated that Buhari's failure to
produce his certificates would
amount to a clear confirmation that
he had something to hide.
The minister said Buhari must
provide evidence that he was
qualified to contest the election, as
prescribed by the 1999 Constitution.
According to him, the affidavit sworn
to by Buhari was meaningless,
because the military could not keep
the original certificates of an officer.
He also cautioned human rights
lawyer, Tunji Abayomi, who had
risen in defence of Buhari, against
blind support to a candidate because
of personal interests.
Abayomi had, in a statement quoted
by SaharaReporters, said the
constitution did not prescribe the
presentation or show of any
certificate to qualify for election to
the office of president.
According to him, "under section
131(d) of our military constitution, a
person shall be qualified for election
to the office of President if 'he has
been educated up to at least school
certificate level or its equivalent.'
"While a certificate may
unequivocably show that a
contestant has been educated up to
at least school certificate level, his
education without a certificate may
show, again unequivocably that he
has been educated up to the
equivalent of school certificate level.
"The APC screening committee was
made up of several eminent highly
educated and enlightened men and
one woman. They came to the
conclusion after putting APC
presidential aspirants through a
most rigorous test that all the APC
aspirants met the constitutional
qualifications, including education,
to contest for election to the office
of President.
"They confirmed this by awarding
them a certificate. The qualification
set by the constitution for contest is
the level of education not its
certificate.
"With reference to General Buhari
having regard to his unimpeachable
military training, an irrefutable
presumption was properly made by
the APC screening committee that
he met the education qualification
set by the constitution.
"Those who contest this or who
intend to contest that he met the
education qualification of Section
131(d) have the burden to disprove
the irrefutable presumption, not
General Buhari."
But Adeyeye said while Section 131
of the 1999 Constitution provides
that a candidate must be educated
up to at least secondary school to be
able to vie for the presidential
election, Section 137(j) also
indicates that a candidate can be
disqualified from seeking the
election if he submits a forged
certificate to INEC, adding that those
who drafted the constitution knew
that "you have to submit an
evidence of qualification, that is why
Section 137 talks about forged
certificate."
He added that "people like Abayomi
should not say that because they
have an interest, they would defend
a candidate without certificates.
They should not lay a dangerous
precedent whereby some persons
with questionable certificates would
start contesting elections and claim
that they don't need to show us
their certificates.
"It is very compulsory that he
presents his certificates, otherwise,
how are we going to prove that he
was educated to the school
certificate level or its equivalent.
The constitution is very clear in
Section 131, he must be educated
up to school certificates. If he
doesn't show any proof, how are we
going to know he is qualified?"
The minister added that if Buhari did
not have certificate to show, he
should voluntarily withdraw from the
presidential race.
"He is a former head of state and I
am sure that when he served as
head of state, the first thing he
would ask anyone he wanted to
recruit is the certificate.
"Is he telling us that if he becomes
president, people will not need
certificates to be appointed to
offices? As a leader, he must lead by
example," he added.
Adeyeye stated that the burden of
proof of certificate or qualification
could not be on INEC, adding that
Buhari could, as well, have obtained
a Certified True Copy (CTC) of his
certificates if he has any to show.
The controversy over Buhari's
certificates erupted following his
decision to submit an affidavit sworn
to in an Abuja High Court, indicating
that his certificates are with the
military.
Buhari had stated in the affidavit
that: "I am the above-named person
and deponent to this affidavit
therein. 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. The
affidavit is made in good faith and
for record purpose."
A competent source at INEC said the
affidavit deposed to at the Federal
Capital Territory, FCT, High Court,
Abuja and dated November 24,
2014, was stamped and received at
INEC headquarters on December 18,
2014.
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