The Human Rights Writers’ Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s silence over damaging allegations against some of his top officials was an indication that Nigeria is becoming a country of fraudsters.
HURIWA urged Mr. Buhari to sack the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, and other members of his cabinet accused of certificate forgery.
In a statement on Thursday by the national coordinator of the group, Emmanuel Onwubiko, HURIWA recalled that WAEC while testifying before the House of Representatives ad hoc Panel probing Obono-Obla’s alleged forgery, WAEC Registrar, represented by the Deputy Registrar, Femi Ola, said that available evidence showed that the results were “altered” and thus “invalid.”
The group stated that such tendencies to accommodate persons with questionable academic credentials rubbishes the national policy on education, constitutionally enshrined in Section 18 (1), which emphasizes merit and honesty at all times.
It therefore asked the president Buhari to sack such persons like Adeosun and his senior Special Assistant on prosecution Obono Obla over the West African Examination Certificate.
HURIWA also demanded the prosecution of Mrs. Adeosun for making use of allegedly forged NYSC discharged certificate, saying it amounted to a serious misdemeanor that should fetch her a criminal prosecution and jail if proven in the competent court of law.
The statement said, “The current administration must desist from polluting the international image of Nigeria by toleration many persons of questionable academic credentials who are working in the federal government of Nigeria when there are millions of highly qualified Nigerians from diverse fields searching frantically for employments.
“The silence of the current government to the cacophony of allegations of certificate forgery involving top rated government officials shows that the corporate image of the country is imperiled and if this silence and failure to act persists, then the rest of the world will see Nigeria as a country of certificate forgers.
“Corruption also includes such crime like forgery of academic credentials which runs contrary to section 15 (5) of the constitution which makes it obligatory that government must abolish all corrupt practices and abuse of power.”
HURIWA further revealed that it has consulted some patriotic lawyers to head to court to secure the legal sanction of all the identified persons in government with fake certificates just as it has started drafting a bill to compel the forensic investigations of all the academic qualifications tendered by all federal government officials to weed off the holders of forged certificates and sanitize the federal government.
The stateement added, “Both the Criminal and Penal Codes that apply in the southern and northern parts of Nigeria prohibit forgery, citing Sections 463 of the Criminal Code which provides for three years imprisonment for forgery while sections 362 to 364 of the Penal Code deal with forgery with punishment of up to 14 years imprisonment with option of fine or both.”
“It becomes life imprisonment if, amongst others, the thing forged purports to be a document which is evidence of title to public debt of Nigeria or a state, or of another country, or forges a document that purports to be a debt of Nigeria, or signature of the president or governor of a state.
“Also, both forgery and perjury are criminal offences, the Criminal Code views perjury as an offence whether made under judicial oath, that is a court proceeding or document or not, while under the Penal Code, perjury must be an evidence given under oath or under express provision of law compelling a person to state the truth.
“Forgery and perjury are both criminal offences that go to one’s integrity and credibility.
“It vitiates the moral and legal trust that public service demands. It calls to question a person’s qualification and competency. And we must etch new paradigms in public services by proceeding in the Courts of Law against forgers and those who lie under oath.”
Both Mr. Buhari and Mrs. Adeosun are yet to respond to the allegation of NYSC exemption certificate forgery.