Wednesday, April 24, 2024
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Nigeria: Tinubu's Certificate – 107 Senators Urge Caution, Rule of Law As Keyamo, Atiku Disagree

Disturbed by the tension trailing President Bola Tinubu’s Chicago State University, CSU, certificate controversy, 107 non-serving senators have called for caution, respect for the rule of law and principles of justice in handling the issue.

The 107 former senators of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, spoke as APC Non-Serving Senators Group. The former lawmakers, who threw their weight behind the president, said there was a need to “uphold dignity and caution in times of challenge.”

Former Vice President and Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is challenging the election of President Tinubu at the Supreme Court. Last week, via the courts in the United States of America, he obtained the academic records of Tinubu from the CSU, which he has filed at the apex court, praying the court to sack Tinubu on account of alleged certificate forgery and perjury among others.

Atiku said the certified deposition made by Caleb Westberg on behalf of CSU disclaimed the certificate Tinubu presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to contest the 2023 presidential poll.

He contended that “the presentation of a forged certificate to INEC by a candidate for election to the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is a weighty constitutional matter requiring consideration by the courts as custodians of the Constitution.”

Currently, the issue has been raising dust in the polity, with some backing President Tinubu and others opposing him.

Why Atiku can’t prove forgery against Tinubu–Keyamo

Faulting Atiku and his supporters, a top member of APC and Aviation Minister, Festus Keyamo, SAN, said Atiku cannot prove his forgery accusation against Tinubu unless the vendor that printed Tinubu’s CSU certificate denies its authenticity.

In a tweet yesterday, he said: “When some comments or perception of otherwise plain and simple issues are so moronic, mischievous or downright odious, they really do not deserve a response because you’d be dignifying idiocy. But let me drop this here for posterity.

“I have been a defence and prosecution lawyer at the highest level in criminal trials for more than 30 years. You cannot allege or prove forgery except the purported maker of the document denies its authenticity or there is uncontradicted evidence of a forensic report that categorically says the document was deliberately altered or concocted by the person who altered (in a legal sense) or issued it.

“Applying this principle to the case of Atiku Abubakar V Chicago State University, so long as the university openly said ‘they do not issue replacement certificate, but that vendors do so on their behalf,’ all this noise about so-called forgery are useless until the particular vendor that issued the replacement certificate to @officialABAT denies its authenticity.

“It is the duty of the accuser to fish out the said vendor and get that evidence. It is not the other way around. He who alleges must prove.

“This is the simple principle I laid down in 2019 during our defence of President Buhari that has been so mischievously celebrated as if they have hit the bull’s eye. Unfortunately for them, @officialABAT is as clean and white as snow on this issue and we are again waiting for them at the Supreme

“As for Atiku Abubakar, we acknowledge the valedictory speech he delivered a few days ago signifying his retirement from politics and we wish him godspeed in that retirement.

“Public officers must always bear in mind the cliche that power is transient. They have limited time to make their modest contributions and bow out for others to continue. No one can annex public office as a personal chattel. That’s why I recoil from the razzmatazz of public office.”

Tinubu trying to hide many forgeries – Atiku

But countering this, Atiku decried what he described as President Tinubu’s proclivity for forgeries, saying it was saddening that despite the exposure of the President’s ‘forged’ CSU certificate, his handlers have continued to alter his records while trying to divert attention from previous forgeries.

Speaking through his Media Adviser, Mazi Paul Ibe, in a statement, in Abuja, yesterday, Atiku said: “Since Tuesday last week when the deposition regarding President Bola Tinubu’s educational qualifications came to the fore in the United States, there have been several attempts to twist the facts of the matter, which deliberately aim to confuse the mind of the public concerning the matter.

“Some media aides to the president have come out openly to ‘push back on the narrative’, while some media houses have persistently slanted their story to justify a corrupted interpretation of the facts in the disposition.

“Sadly, however, the truth of the matter remains that Nigeria’s President, Bola Tinubu, falsified a document he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission and swore an affidavit under oath to back up his forgery.

“On page 26 of the deposition which is publicly available, the Registrar of Chicago State University, Caleb Westberg, under oath, was asked a simple question that, “CSU has determined that it does not have a true and correct copy of the diploma issued to Bola Tinubu in 1979, correct? To which the Registrar responded, “that’s correct.”

Ibe further said: “Also, on page 27, a similar question was put to Mr. Westberg: “So, CSU, after going through every diploma, was unable to find an authentic copy of any diploma that CSU issued to Tinubu in 1979. Is that correct?”

“The CSU Registrar, in his response, said: “We did not find any diploma issued by CSU in 1979 to Mr. Tinubu.” “And coming straight to the specific issue of whether the CSU is aware of or in possession of the diploma that Tinubu submitted to INEC, to which Mr. Westberg simply said, “Correct, we are not aware of it.”

“President Tinubu’s supporters and spin doctors will want to force the narrative of, at least, “Tinubu graduated from the CSU down our throat, even when the narrative has no foothold in logic. “The question remains: How does a candidate graduate from a university that you were never qualified for?

“According to information in the open, President Tinubu applied to the CSU with a pre-qualifying 1970 certificate from Government College Lagos, whereas the school did not come into existence until 1974. Maybe this should make Tinubu the first man ever to have an anticipatory certification from the school four clear years before the founding of the school.

“The late lawyer and human rights icon, Gani Fawehinmi, would have succeeded in bursting him but for the immunity he enjoyed as governor of Lagos State.

“It is our contention that at the heart of the forgery scandal against President Tinubu is the question of integrity and morality. “If the President would not do what is honourable by resigning from office and saving the country an imminent embarrassment, at least his supporters should desist from telling shameful lies to confuse the public.

We must exercise caution, and observe principles of justice — Senators

Reacting to the matter, the 107 non-serving APC senators, in a statement by their Convener and Protem Chairman, Senator Basheer Lado, said: “We are aware of the current unfounded allegations surrounding President Tinubu’s credentials, which have sparked public discourse and in some cases, public outrage.

“We believe it is essential to emphasize the need for caution and a commitment to the rule of law during this period. “President Tinubu has been a dedicated leader serving our nation with distinction and integrity for many years. The allegations being fueled by the opposition are a matter before the court of law, and we trust in the judicial process to address these claims fairly and impartially.