NYSC Forgery: Prosecute Kwara PDP Governorship Candidate, KMC Tell Police, As It Accuses KWSG Of Culpability

NYSC Forgery: Prosecute Kwara PDP Governorship Candidate, KMC Tell Police, As It Accuses KWSG Of Culpability

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A Pro-Democracy group in Kwara State, popular known as Kwara Must

Change has said it received with utmost surprise, a report alleging

that the Kwara State People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governorship

candidate, Hon. Razaq Atunwa forged his National Youth Service Scheme

(NYSC) certificate to deceive the nation.

 

‘’We find this allegation very strong and weighty and rather than

allow the issue remain a mere allegation, we call for proper

investigation into the matter by the police to ascertain the

credibility of the story and if true, as eventual prosecution of the

culprit’ the group said through a statement signed by its president,

Abdulrazaq Hamzat.

 

In an exclusive report by Premium Times newspaper, it was discovered

that the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in

Kwara State in the forthcoming general elections, Hon. Razak Atunwa

did not participate in Nigeria’s compulsory national youth service

scheme. Instead, he procured a forged discharge certificate of NYSC

which he submitted to the PDP to prove his eligibility for public

office.

 

The NYSC law requires every Nigerian who attended university or

polytechnic to participate in the national youth scheme for one year

after graduation, provided the person finished before age 30. Failure

to serve would prohibit such individual from gainful employment in

Nigeria, and making false claims about serving could attract up to 14

years in jail. Also, anyone who graduated before 30 but deliberately

declined to serve has committed a crime that could attract 12-month

imprisonment, even if the person did not forge NYSC documents.

 

Mr Atunwa, born on October 17, 1969 and according to his public

profile, he studied law at the University of East London, graduating

in 1992 at age 23. Having earned a bachelor’s degree at 23, Mr Atunwa,

going by Section 2 of the NYSC Act, should have participated in the

year-long national service.

 

However, rather than present himself for national service, Mr. Atunwa

was said to have stayed back in the United Kingdom, returning only in

2005 to join the cabinet of then Governor Bukola Saraki in Kwara State

at the age of 36.

 

Kwara Must Change queried that, should the Atunwa’s NYSC forgery

scandal be confirmed to be true, this would be an indictment on the

Kwara State government and the Kwara State House of Assembly in whose

custody; Atunwa has been working for about 15 years.

 

According to the group, since it is not allowed for anyone without

NYSC certificate to work in Nigeria and contrary to this law, Atunwa

has been working in the country since 2005, serving under the Kwara

State government in various capacities, including commissioner for

Land, Work and Transport, Information and Home Affairs, Finance as

well as serving as speaker of the Kwara State House of Assembly and

now a member of federal house of representative, the culpability of

the Kwara State government cannot be under emphasized.

 

To secure the PDP governorship ticket on October 1, Atunwa was said to

have submitted a counterfeit NYSC discharge certificate and

accompanied it with an affidavit, indicating he lied on oath, an

offence that attracts up to 14 years in jail.

 

Mr Atunwa — who claimed he qualified for law practice in the United

Kingdom after obtaining undergraduate and master’s degrees at separate

universities in London — indicated in the nomination document he

submitted at the PDP national secretariat in Abuja that he partook in

the youth service scheme between 1995 and 1996.

 

The lawmaker accompanied it with a notarised affidavit sworn at the

Kwara State High Court in Ilorin on September 10. The document was

attached to his PDP expression of interest form. He signed the

document despite a clause indicating he remained automatically

disqualified as candidate if any statement or information he provided

is found to be false, inaccurate, or mislead the party or its agents

from making proper assessment of his competence to contest the

governorship election under the platform of the Peoples Democratic

Party (PDP).

 

According to the newspaper, one could see at first glance that Mr.

Atunwa’s so-called discharge certificate is fake. For one, Mr Atunwa’s

‘certificate’ purportedly obtained in 1996 carried the signature of

Walter Oki (brigadier general at the time). But Mr Oki was only made

NYSC director-general in 2002. In 1996, Soyemi Sofoluwe (brigadier

general) was director-general of the corps and signed all discharge

and exemption certificates during the period. He was succeeded by S.M.

Dule (brigadier general), who served as director-general between 1996

and 2000.

 

To further crosscheck the authenticity of Mr Atunwa’s ‘certificate’,

PREMIUM TIMES compared his with original ones that bore the basics of

the document, especially those from foreign university graduates.

 

At least three ministers who returned to Nigeria to serve after

finishing from schools in the UK and the United States had similar

call-up mark in their certificates, which usually carries the acronym

of the institution, the state where the participant served, where the

person was called up, the year of service and the serial number for

the certificate.

 

For instance, Ibe Kachikwu, the minister of state for petroleum, has

his NYSC certificate marked as NYSC/OY/FORN/82/7101. Mr Kachikwu was

deployed for service in Oyo State (OY) on August 16, 1982, passing out

a year later on August 15, 1983. He came back to Nigeria to serve

after completing his doctorate in law at Harvard University (FORN) in

December 1981.

 

Aisha Abubakar, the minister of state trade and industry, returned to

Nigeria after concluding her masters in development studies at the

University of Leeds. Her certificate is marked NYSC/LA/FRN/91/18170,

indicating that she served in Lagos, after graduating from a foreign

university.

 

Khadija Bukar Ibrahim, the minister of state foreign affairs, also

schooled abroad. She attended Roehampton Institute for Higher

Education, affiliated with the University of Surrey and finished in

  1. She enlisted in the NYSC on October 2, 1990 and passed out on

October 1, 1991. Her certificate is marked NYSC/LA/FRN/90/28750,

indicating that she served in Lagos (LA) after graduating from a

foreign university (FRN) in 1990.

 

However, Mr. Atunwa’s certificate, rather than bear FRN or FORN (code

for foreign graduates) has KWP (a code reserved for graduates of Kwara

State Polytechnic) as identification mark. But the politician did not

graduate from Kwara Polytechnic. He claimed he attended the University

of East London for the first degree and the University of London for

his master’s.

 

According to the newspaper, “This is the most audacious forgery since

PREMIUM TIMES began investigation into NYSC claims of senior

government officials and politicians generally,”

 

Hon. Atunwa was said to have broken Nigerian law twice. According to

the report, “Based on Section 13 (c) of the NYSC Act, even being in

possession of a forged NYSC certificate is already a crime,” “And then

we now have an affidavit that he swore to and walked himself into

perjury, another criminal offence.”

 

Kwara Must Change is therefore calling on the police to promptly

launch an investigation into the matter to ascertain the truth.

Should the Police investigation proved the allegation correct, Atunwa

must be made to return all the salaries he had received from the Kwara

State government, Kwara State House of Assembly and the National

Assembly.

He must also be prosecuted for forging the NYSC certificate and then

lying on oath.

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