Controversy has trailed the details of credentials submitted by the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ahmed Bola Tinubu, in his filing to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In the INEC Form CF001 submitted on June 17, 2022, Tinubu did not provide details of his primary and secondary schools as the spaces were left blank. He also did not attach copies of his certificates, which he stated in an affidavit, had been stolen.
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Details of the filings, which emerged following the publication of candidates’ particulars by INEC on Friday, have generated speculations that the APC flag-bearer could be hiding some details or was unsure of his credentials.
It could be recalled that Tinubu had in previous submissions to INEC listed primary and secondary schools attended as St. Paul’s Aroloya and Children’s Home School, Ibadan from 1958 to 1964; and Government College, Ibadan from 1961 to 1971. He, however, attached a court affidavit stating that he lost all his credentials following raids on his home during the military regime in the 1990s.
Tinubu had vied and won elections for the governorship of Lagos State under the Alliance for Democracy (AD) in 1999 and 2003.
In his latest submission to the electoral body, the former governor left the spaces for primary and secondary schools blank but stated that he obtained a BSC degree from the Chicago State University.
He attached the old affidavit explaining the loss of his documents.
In the affidavit deposed to in a Lagos High Court, he averred that, “I, Tinubu Bola Ahmed, hereby make oath and declare that I am the person seeking election into the office of president in the Nigerian constituency and the particulars given hereinunder are correct, true and to the best of my knowledge.”
‘Unknown persons’ stole my certificates – Tinubu
Explaining the absence of his qualifications in his attachments, the former governor averred in an affidavit that the documents were looted in the course of his exile in 1993.
“I went on self-exile from October 1994 to October 1998 when I returned and discovered that all my property, including all the documents relating to my qualification and my certificates in respect of paragraph 3 above, were looted by unknown persons.
“My house was the target of searches by various security agents from the time the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was forced to adjourn following the military takeover of government on November 17, 1993, I was the chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriation, Banking and Finance. I was also a plaintiff in one of the two suits against the Interim National Government in 1993.”
‘Arrest, probe him’
Meanwhile, a civil society group, Center for Reform and Pubic Advocacy, has written the Inspector General of Police, Usman Baba Alkali, demanding the arrest and prosecution of Senator Tinubu within 48 hours over alleged perjury.
In a press statement on Saturday, the legal adviser of the organisation, Kalu Kalu Agu, said the IGP had failed to act on an earlier letter dated June 16, 2022, accusing Tinubu of “false information on oath contrary to sections 191 and 192 of the Criminal Code Act, LFN, 2004, which he admitted he did not possess in Annexure C.”
The lawyer said the group would file for an order of mandamus to compel the IGP to perform his constitutional obligation in the interest of “good governance, accountability, probity and transparency.”
His filings in order – Campaign team
The head of the Legal Directorate of the Tinubu Campaign Organisation, Babatunde Ogala, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Saturday challenged anyone who has issues with his academic records of Tinubu to go to court, saying the organisation is ready for them.
He described the controversy over Tinubu’s academic qualification as a distraction and blackmail the campaign organisation would not succumb to.
Ogala, in a chat with Daily Trust on Sunday, said Tinubu had fulfilled all the constitutional requirements to contest the February 2023 presidential election.
He challenged those raising issues about his record to point out where he lied on oath.
He said, “Where did he lie on oath? You the media people should not encourage all these idle, silly talks. There is something called the law of defamation in this country. There is criminal and civil defamation.
“Let me say this clearly; our candidate, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, has filled Form EC9 to INEC on oath and this should be the issue, not these distractions.
“And has he met the constitutional requirements? Yes. Did he meet the requirements of the Electoral Act? Yes. So these, for me, are the issues. Has this matter not been litigated many times since 1999?
“The constitution is clear. It states, ‘Meet the minimum qualification for the presidency’. He didn’t meet that qualification? It (the constitution) states, “Educated up to school certificate level”. Is he (Tinubu) educated up to the school certificate level? Yes.
“If a man has attended a university, that’s far the above school certificate level, he has nothing new to prove.”
Social media agog
Nigerians on the social media spent most part of Saturday discussing the details of the APC candidate’s forms, with many commenters taking extreme positions on the issue.
Femi Aribisala, tweeting from the handle, @femiaribisala, stated, “I wrote in 2014 that Tinubu’s affidavit that he attended Government College, Ibadan (GCI) between 1965 and 1968 was false. I was in GCI from 1962 to1968, and Tinubu was not there. Tinubu now tells the INEC that he did not go to primary or secondary school. This means he committed perjury.”
Another twitter user, @Intel_Avatar wrote: “The God that made Tinubu to attend Chicago State University, get a first class degree and work in Exxon Mobil without attending primary and secondary schools, do that miracle in my life today.”
A joujrnalist, Eniola Akinkuotu, with the handle, @ENIBOY, attached a picture of a letter he said he received from the Chicago State University in response to an enquiry on Tinubu’s attendance of the US institution, in which the school confirmed that the former Lagos governor attended is an alumnus.
In another tweet he added; “This is also a correspondence between me and the office of the registrar at Chicago State University confirming Tinubu’s claim. The ones that are actually controversial are his primary and secondary school records, which he cleverly omitted in his latest INEC Form CF001.”
It’s public duty to challenge filings at INEC – Lawyers
Reacting to the development, Murtala Abdulrasheed (SAN), said it is a legal requirement to attach documents declared and for members of the public to see and challenge it.
He said INEC was required to publish the submitted documents 14 or 21 days for members of the public to view and for those who have issues to approach the Federal High Court.
“The INEC on its own would not go and verify the filings, it is for members of the public to challenge it,” he said.
Also reacting, Tochukwu Ohazuruike, a lawyer, said the controversy in the Tinubu filings stemmed from the withholding of facts contained in his earlier INEC form in 1999, especially on the loss of the certificates.
“The question is: Where is the affidavit of the missing documents?” he asked.
“Stating same would mean he would have to fill those schools, People who were in the Government College, Ibadan have contradicted that he was not there. Obviously, there is something different from what he had filled in the past; that is the insinuation,” he added.
By Abbas Jimoh, John Chuks Azu & Abdullateef Aliyu, Lagos