BusinessDay

Tinubu in eye of the storm over certificate scandal

Bola Tinubu, presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the 2023 general election, is in the eye of the storm, few weeks after emerging victorious at the party’s primary.

Tinubu, 70, a former governor of Lagos State, is accused of perjury and irregularities in the documents he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

The issue is generating debates and dominating public discourse across Nigeria, especially on social media.

Last weekend, the Action Peoples Party (APP) had said that it would on Monday (yesterday) drag the APC presidential candidate to court, to challenge his academic qualification to stand for the 2023 election.

Uche Nnadi, chairman of the party, who disclosed this in a statement, said the party had enough facts to nail Tinubu.

Another group, the Centre for Reform and Public Advocacy, a civil society organisation, also called for the arrest of Tinubu, for allegedly falsifying his academic qualifications.

In a statement issued last weekend by its legal officer, Kalu Agu, the group asked the inspector-general of police to initiate criminal prosecution against Tinubu within 48 hours.

Last week, it emerged that Tinubu did not provide any information about the primary and secondary schools he attended in his EC9 form published by INEC.

He said he attended University of Chicago between 1972 and 1976 and obtained B.Sc in Economics and a B.Sc in Business and Administration, as well as a certificate in Public Account.

Tinubu, in his sworn affidavit in support of his nomination form, said he “went on self-exile from October 1994 to October 1999 (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.”

Meanwhile, some Tinubu’s supporters have dismissed the latest allegations against him, saying that those raising questions about his eligibility to contest the 2023 presidential election hate him or fear him, while secretly admiring his guts.

Bayo Onanuga, director, media and communications at Tinubu Campaign Organisation, dismissed the allegations levelled against the APC candidate in an interview with journalists over the weekend.

Onanuga said the APC presidential candidate was more than qualified to be Nigeria’s president.

Read also: I’m still searching for my running mate – Tinubu

Seye Oladejo, spokesman of the party in Lagos State, in an interview with journalists, said Tinubu has the personality and requisite qualifications to be president as dictated by the constitution of the country.

He said it was absurd for those who had no authority in medical practice to be querying his eligibility for the presidential election.

“There is no reason for anyone or group to lose sleep over the presidential ambition of Bola Tinubu. All allegations bordering on his state of health, source of wealth, education and age are mere fault-finding that cannot be substantiated,” Oladejo had said.

Certificate scandal and the law

Femi Pedro, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said: “I don’t see any issue there, except they are saying it is a forgery issue. The bottom line here is that Tinubu has gone to school and has a school certificate, which is the constitutional requirement.

“The law is not even saying you must pass. The man who has worked in top companies; the court is a public place; anybody can go and file a suit.”

Read also: Tinubu certificategate: CSO calls for arrest, prosecution of APC presidential candidate

But some observers say that the latest allegations should be a big worry for him and the APC, considering that it is coming close to the beginning of campaign for next year’s election.

Yomi Farounbi, former chairman of Nigeria Bar Association, Ikeja branch, said the two forms should be made available, otherwise the matter should not be taken seriously.

“For a start, let the alleged two forms be made available to see the perjury complained of. Then a good and informed comment could be made. Otherwise, it remains an unsubstantiated allegation that I should take with a pinch of salt. It will be better if the threat of lawsuit is carried out first to know how serious the APP is,” Farounbi said.

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