Typical of the general election season in Nigeria, the political atmosphere has begun heating up with a series of controversies.
On Saturday, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Presidential Candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, was in the news for not presenting his academic certificates to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
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While Tinubu skipped information regarding his primary and secondary education in the INEC form, he however stated that he attended Chicago State University.
Tinubu’s latest claims appear to contradict his previous submissions, especially in 1999, when he ran and won the Lagos State governorship election. Then, he said he attended St Paul Children’s School, Aroloya and Home School, Ibadan, between 1958 and 1964 for his primary education; while his secondary education was at Government College Ibadan (GCI), between 1965 and 1968.
In a sworn affidavit in support of his nomination form for the office of the president, Tinubu said he “went on self-exile from October 1994 to October 1998 (and) when I returned and discovered that my property including all the documents relating to my qualification and my certificates in respect of paragraph 3 above were looted by unknown persons.”
However, the former Lagos State governor is just among several candidates who had been involved in the certificate saga in the build-up to elections.
President Muhammadu Buhari had at some points in his political journey been a subject of such controversy.
Prior to the 2015 elections, issues were raised over the secondary school certificate of Buhari, who was the APC presidential candidate at the time.
The matter resurfaced in 2018 when Buhari was seeking reelection and didn’t include his academic credentials in the list of documents he submitted to INEC ahead of the 2019 presidential election. The debate about the president’s certificates, which had started in 2015, reemerged albeit with new twists.
His inability to present his West African Secondary School Certificate left him with attacks and ridicule, especially online, by people who accused him of not attending secondary school.
In a reaction to the development, WAEC issued an “attestation certificate” to the president, confirming that Buhari had indeed obtained a secondary school certificate from the examination body in 1961.
In 2018, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate in the Osun State gubernatorial election, Ademola Adeleke, was sued by three members of his party over alleged certificate forgery.
The plaintiffs sought Adeleke’s disqualification from the September 22 governorship election for allegedly submitting fake certificates to get the PDP ticket.
Two PDP members, Rasheed Olabayo and Idowu Oluwaseun, had earlier approached the court to disqualify Senator Adeleke over the allegation that he did not possess the necessary certificates and urged the court to restrain PDP from presenting him to INEC as the candidate of the party.
But a few months later, Justice David Oladimeji, in his judgement, cleared Adeleke to contest the September 22 governorship election.
However, a fresh suit was filed by Awoosiyan Olalekan, Ojejade Thomas and Awodire Sina before Federal High Court, Osogbo, against Adeleke, PDP and INEC
Subsequently, the Court of Appeal cleared Adeleke, saying it was satisfied that Senator Ademola Adeleke possessed the requisite educational qualification to contest the election.
On February 13, 2020, the Supreme Court sacked David Lyon less than 24 hours before his inauguration as governor of Bayelsa State. Lyon, who was the APC candidate, had been declared winner of the governorship election in the state in November 2019.
A panel of justices led by Mary Odili asked INEC to withdraw the certificate of return issued to Lyon and re-issue another to the candidate with the second highest number of votes.
The decision of the apex court was in affirmation of the verdict of a federal high court disqualifying Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, Lyon’s running mate, for submitting forged credentials to INEC, stating that the action of Degi-Eremienyo affected Lyon because both men had run on a joint ticket.
In March 2017, the Supreme Court also cut short the tenure of Christian Abah, a member of the House of Representatives representing Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadigbo Federal Constituency in Benue State, by kicking him out of the legislative chamber.
He had earlier been sacked by a federal high court in Abuja in 2016 for submitting a forged certificate of his academic qualification to INEC.
The court had ordered INEC to issue a fresh certificate of return to Abah’s first runner-up in the PDP primary held in 2014, Hassan Saleh.
The Supreme Court affirmed that Abah had forged the Ordinary National Diploma certificate purportedly issued to him in 1985 by the Federal Polytechnic, Mubi, Adamawa State.
Abah was said to have, in addition to tendering a forged certificate for the 2015 election, falsely claimed in the INEC’s Form CF001 that he had never submitted a forged certificate to INEC, contrary to an earlier judgment of an election petition tribunal in 2011, declaring that the certificate submitted by him was forged.