Nigerian literary icon, Professor Wale Soyinka, has given those challenging his academic records a 30-day ultimatum to offer their proof over allegations.
The Nobel Laureate asked his critics to provide their evidence to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).
Soyinka, a celebrated poet, playwright, author and lecturer, also said he is awaiting his lawyer on whether or not to take legal action against those behind the allegations.
He attended Leeds University, UK from 1954 to 1957 and received an honours degree in English Literature.
He stayed in the city after his studies and wrote two of his first major plays – The Swamp Dwellers and The Lion and the Jewel – before moving to London, where he worked as a play reader for the Royal Court Theatre, and then returned to Nigeria in 1960.
A previous report had resurfaced online, wherein a certain James Gibbs, a professor, was said to have disputed that Soyinka graduated with a first-class degree from Leeds University.
The allegation spread on social media following President Bola Tinubu’s certificate saga from Chicago State University (CSU) instituted by former Vice President Atiku Abubakar.
Soyinka became the subject of attack over his criticism of Peter Obi and his ‘obidients’ followers in the last weeks, after the tribunal ruling.
In a statement on Friday titled “A moral call to amoral conscripts”, the Nobel laureate said if the allegations are proven to be true, he would strip himself of the honours and feats he has claimed in his writing career.
“Duly modified to suit a debased internet culture, it is making its grimy rounds ironically under the auspices of a democratic political party, supposedly dedicated to an ethos of freedom of opinion and expression,” Soyinka wrote.
“The contents of that script are attributed, as before, to the scholastic industry of a Bristol schoolteacher.
“I wish to state in advance that I voluntarily waive all protection under the statute of limitations, and insist that the laws that govern fraudulent academic claims be invoked and applied to these allegations to the uttermost limit.
“I also declare, in advance that, if found culpable, I shall strip myself of any titles and honours I may have garnered in my entire career, from the most obscure to the most coveted.
“In return, I expect the purveyors of this sordid material to submit all evidence, however minuscule, to the nation’s investigative agencies – Directorates of Prosecutions, EFCC, ICPC, plus affected institutions and others within the next thirty days.
“Failing this elementary service in public interest within the stated time, and/or If such allegations are yet again proven baseless, thus indicating that their sponsors can boast of neither honours to their careers nor honour to their births and origins, then, as a token of moral recompense, they should undertake to jump off the bridge of the symbolic River Niger, provided with life jackets, to ensure a life of remorse after this ritual purgation, but chained to one another in a commendable unity of purpose.
“This is being copied to the Academic Staff Union of Nigeria, Pan-African Writers Association, Accra, Nigeran Association of Authors, the Nobel Foundation, Stockholm, the University of Leeds, the alleged Bristol Primary Source and his school, and the infested media.”