Prominent civil rights advocacy group- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has described as a fraud, highly organised blackmail and total falsehood, the unsubstantiated allegation of possessing forged National Youth Service Corps discharge certificate by the Governorship Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) in Enugu State, Dr. Peter Ndubuisi Mbah.
HURIWA which described the faceless, unknown and self styled Total Support for Rule of Law and Justice Initiative and Enugu Progressive Forum, as political tools been deployed by the political oppositions in Enugu State to wage unsubstantiated, reckless and wayward Campaign of calumny against the Gubernatorial candidate of the PDP just as the Rights group has thrown her weight behind the counter claim by the Enugu State of PDP Campaign Council which has denied the allegation describing it as the conjecture of an indolent opposition and the last kick of a dying horse.
HURIWA recalled that the strange, amorphous and untraceable groups alleged that the NYSC in a letter dated 1st February, 2023, confirmed that it did not issue the said Certificate of National Service presented to INEC by Mbah just as the Coordinator of the Total Support for Rule of Law and Justice Initiative and Enugu Progressive Forum, , Cynthia Mabeokwu, in the copy of the letter released to journalists at the press conference, the Corps, in paragraph 2 of the letter said: “We are pleased to inform you that the Certificate of National Service belonging to Mba Peter Ndubuisi with Certificate Number: A808297 forwarded for verification was not issued by the NYSC.”
HURIWA recalled that the two unknown groups had cited the provisions of the Constitution, and said that any votes cast in favour of Mbah for the election were bound to be declared wasted and void as they were votes cast for a person who was an initio not qualified to stand for the elections just as they wrongly said that by Section 182(1)(j)of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the Constitution provides: Section 182(1) No person shall be qualified for election to the office of Governor of a State if (j) He has presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission.
HURIWA further recalled that in its counter narrative in the statement issued in Enugu, the Director of Public Communications and Spokesperson of the Enugu State PDP Campaign Council, Nana Ogbodo, said: “There is no truth whatsoever to the allegation. Our attention has been drawn to a press conference by a faceless group in Abuja, which claimed to have conducted a check at the NYSC under the Freedom of Information Act 2011, which purportedly showed that our governorship candidate, Dr. Peter Mbah, submitted a forged NYSC certificate to INEC. We make bold to say that Dr. Peter Mbah was duly mobilised for the one-year mandatory national youth service in Lagos in 2002, duly completed the exercise and was issued with an NYSC discharge certificate.
We state unequivocally that these purveyors of malicious falsehood are the real forgers, as everything about the letter they claimed to have emanated from the NYSC bears all the imprimaturs of forgery; the language too inelegant.”
HURIWA in a media briefing in Abuja lambasted the groups for attempting to blackmail the Governorship Candidate of the PDP in Enugu State by contracting persons alleged to be members of a syndicate within the headquarters of the National Youth Service Corps to choreograph a false narrative concerning the certificate duly issued by the NYSC to Peter Mbah who is without any shadow of doubts, a University graduate in his own merit and who has no antecedents or associated with any certificate scam. ”
We challenge the groups to institute a court case if they think their thinking their deceptive and wayward allegations could stand the test of time.
We have independently conducted our findings and determined that these interlopers identifying themselves as non governmental organisations only exists in the imagination of the faceless drivers driving the groups with the sole aim of seeking to tarnish the unassailable image of the PDP candidate for the office of Governor of Enugu State.
By the way, the highest qualification to seek for elective offices in Nigeria is SCHOOL CERTIFICATE OR ITS EQUIVALENT as decided by the Supreme court of Nigeria in the matter between His Excellency Atiku Abubakar versus President Muhammadu Buhari.
HURIWA recalled that the Supreme Court had on Friday November 15th 2019 held that President Muhammadu Buhari was right not to have submitted his academic credentials to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The apex court stated this while giving a reason for dismissing the appeal by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
According to the court, Buhari was eminently qualified to contest the last presidential election.
The court held that contrary to claim by the appellants, no law requires a candidate to submit his/her academic certificates to the electoral umpire before being allowed to contest the election.
The Supreme Court also held that the constitution does not require one to possess a secondary school certificate to be qualified to run for the presidency.
It added that schooling up to secondary school, without possessing the result of the final examination was sufficient.
The Supreme Court further explained that Buhari did not only show that he has a secondary certificate and rose to the rank of Major General in the Army, attended military training, became the nation’s Head of State, could communicate in English and possessed a primary school leaving certificate, all to the satisfaction of INEC.
The three-man panel of the court upheld the decision of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal, on the issues of Buhari’s qualification and possession of relevant certificates. The apex court resolved issues 1 and 2 against the PDP and Atiku.
HURIWA believes that Peter Mbah who has served in various capacities in the government of Enugu State and has passed several security screenings to get to such lofty heights politically, couldn’t be associated with such an allegation as is been bandied by these faceless groups.
Moreover, Peter Mbah by the virtue of the judgment of the Supreme court of Nigeria aforementioned, is eminently qualifiedto contest for the office if the governor of Enugu State.
Relatedly, HURIWA said it has investigated and uncovered the existence of a syndicate within the NYSC whose members actually forge certificates and issues to unsuspecting members of the public just as the Group however maintained that the candidate of the PDP has been rated as one of the most credible youngsters that have enlisted in politics to provide good governance to the good people of Enugu State and wonderd why groups that identify themselves as belonging to the CSO community will embark on this wild goose chase and the adventure laced with innuendos, alleged blackmail and spreading of fake news with a view to servicing the interest of their political masters instead of concerning themselves with the quality of political campaigns going on in Enugu State.
HURIWA has called on all aspirants to political offices to stop hiring groups to constitute nuisance to the smooth exercise of the electioneering campaigns.
On the second leg of our conversation today, we suspect the existence of a syndicate whose duty is to lure unsuspecting members of the public and especially members of the club of aspirants for public offices who may actually have finished their service year but duped by these gangsters who may ir may not be staff of the NYSC. We will give you an instance of the just suspended managing director of Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), Dr Michael Akabogu who was recently invited by the police in connection to his alleged forgery of the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) Discharge Certificate has gone on leave.
This is coming as a civil society group, ‘Future is Now, (FIN), weekend called on Dr Michael Akabogu, to take the path of honour and resign his appointment from the NSITF and save the fund and nation at large from further embarrassment following his indictment by the NYSC.
Dr Michael Akabogu, in a letter, addressed to ‘All Heads of Departments,’ dated 16th December 2022, with Ref. No: NSITF/AC/MD/5/S.1/1007, notified the department’s heads that he was proceeding on 15 days off duty and that in his absence, the executive director, Administration would act in his position.
The letter which was copied to the Executive Director, Administration, Executive Director, Finance, Investment and Estate; and Executive Director, Operations, reads: “I hereby notify you that I will be off duty for fifteen (15) days from Monday 19th December 2022.
“In my absence, the Executive Director, Administration will act in my capacity and oversee the affairs of the Fund. All Heads of Department are advised to accord her all-necessary assistance and cooperation.”
Recall that the media was awash recently following a petition to the police by a whistleblower wherein the NSITF boss was accused of allegedly parading a fake NYSC Discharge Certificate with Number: A030544. The police invited Akabogu for questioning after the authority of NYSC denied issuing the fake NYSC discharge certificate.
According to the petition, Akabogu claimed he was mobilised for the compulsory one-year Service, vide NO. OG/ FUTO/ 91/23402 for the first Batch from the 4th of October 1991 to the 3rd of October, 1992.
In the invitation letter dated December 8, 2022, and copied to the minister of labour and employment, the police said it is investigating a case of a criminal complaint against the NSTIF Managing Director.
The letter reads: “The Nigeria Police Force, Utako Division FCT, Abuja is investigating a case of a criminal complaint in which your name featured prominently.
“Given the above, please, you should report to the above office on 12th December 2022, at approximately 11.00 hours in furtherance to the above complaint.”
Recall also that NYSC in a letter of response with reference number: NYSC/CCD/VER/10/S.1/VOL/07 and addressed to the Assistant Inspector General of Police, Divisional Police Headquarters, The Nigeria Police Force, Utako Division, FCT Command, Abuja, said it did not issue the Certificate.
The letter signed by the Acting Director Corps Certification, Ibrahim A.M, reads in part: “Your letter Re: Case of forgery involving a Corps member, Akabugu Michael C. with State Code No. OG/FUTO/91/23402.
“Your letter Ref. No: CR:3000/FCT/UT/VOL.10/69 dated 3rd November 2022 on the above subject, please.
“I wish to inform you that the Certificate of National Service belonging to Akabogu Michael C with Certificate number: A030544 forwarded for verification was not issued by the NYSC.”
Meanwhile, FIN, while calling for Akabogu’s resignation in a press statement signed by its national coordinator, Comrade Adetunbi Olayemi and its secretary, Comrade Ebikeme Perebutu threatened to lead a protest to occupy the Fund’s office if the managing director fails to resign.
According to the statement, “Managing Director of NSITF, Dr Michael Akabogu should do the honourable thing by resigning his position from the Fund, he should save the nation from further embarrassment.
“We are also calling on the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Dr. Chris Ngige to prevail on Dr Akabogu to resign and when he fails, he should be sacked.
“We are aware that Akabogu is his kinsman, we are however, appealing to him to put our nation’s interest above ethnic consideration, by sacking the MD.
HURIWA is aware that Chief Akabogu was actually duped by these members of the syndicate in NYSC who allegedly issued him a certificate he believed at that material time to be genuine.
HURIWA will be writing the new Director General of the NYSC to task him to set up independent panel of investigators to uncover the members of this syndicate who actually operate inside the complex of the NYSC and are luring unsuspecting members of the academic community who finished their service year or looking for exemption letter and these people issue OLUWOLE NYSC CERTIFICATES to these innocent people for a huge fee and because these applicants for public offices may not have collected their NYSC certificates which they duly deserve to get, they will think that what is giving to them is genuine.
Take the case of the former minister of Finance of the current administration who is also a victim of this syndicate because they allegedly issued her fake discharge certificate which reportedly ledtk her early disengagementfrom the administrationof President Muhammadu Buhari in the first term.