Obono-Obla: Fighting Corruption With Fake WAEC Certificate? – By Linus Useni
From whispers, the allegation that the Special Assistant to the President on Prosecution as well as Chairman of the Special Presidential Investigative Panel on the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP), Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, parades a fake West African Examination Council (WAEC) O’Level result, has finally hit the newsstands.
First, it was the Chairman, House of Representatives Ad Hoc Committee investigating the activities of the Special Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Hon. Aliyu Ahman-Pategi, who told reporters that whereas the WAEC result (Examination No. 09403/247 May/June 1982) paraded by Chief Obono-Obla and with which he gained admission and studied Law at the University of Jos from 1985 to 1989 showed that he made five credit passes, including Literature in English, an official letter from WAEC dated 17th April 2018 and signed by Mr. Olu Adenipekun for the Head of the National Office (Nigeria), points to the contrary.
He sat for the examination as Ofem Okoi Ofem, a name with which he gained admission, graduated, and passed through the Nigerian Law School before effecting a Deed of Change of Name to Chief Okoi Ofem Obono-Obla.
Comparing what WAEC deems Obono-Obla’s authentic result as against alleged one he parades, the regional examination body requested the House to “note the disparity in the result, in respect of English Literature, where the candidate under reference was Absent”.
To be double sure, especially since Obono-Obla refused to take honour the House’s invites, the House Committee invited WAEC to appear in person on Wednesday, June 5, 2018. Represented by the Deputy Registrar, Mr. Femi Ola, WAEC said, “Considering the results, particularly what is before me, I would say what I have brought here is the authentic and genuine one; his is not because it has been altered and such alteration renders it invalid”. Asked how he would describe the result Obono-Obla parades, he replied “fake, not genuine”.
In a sane society, this would have been enough to shake the entire government. But so far, the Muhammadu Buhari administration, which prides itself on anti-corruption, change, and integrity, has been playing deaf and dumb (please no insult meant to the physically challenged, just figurtative) over such a very grievous allegation. Also, Obono-Obla who, as one of the poster boys of Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade; who was always the first to come on television to defend the midnight raids on the homes of Supreme Court Judges and the trial of opposition leaders, has refused to appear before the House or address the press to clear his name.
In the same vein, the University of Jos, which is at the centre of the entire scandal, has also joined the deaf and dumb game. Interestingly, a member of President Buhari’s Presidential Advisory Council on Anti-Corruption, Dr. (Mrs.) Benedicta Daudu, is of the University of Jos, but does not even feel outraged by this burning scandal around her institution and alumnus.
As many commentators have pointed out, the University of Jos has many questions to answer in the unfolding scandal. It cannot continue to pretend as if it is not reading the newspapers. Does it mean that the University does not verify results presented by prospective students before their admission or throughout their studies? Could there be an admission syndicate in the University? If that is the case, is it out of place to say that Obono-Obla’s case could be just one out of hundreds?
It is bad enough that the University is linked with this unfortunate development in the first place. But I also believe it come out of the raging scandal stronger if it carries out an independent and transparent investigation on the matter and take decisive actions to the satisfaction of Nigerians. It should come out to tell Nigerians, with proof, that the House of Representatives and WAEC are lying.
It would have been vindicated in awarding an LL.B. to Chief Obono-Obla.
If, however, it is established that Chief Obono-Obla indeed fooled the University into awarding him a degree he did not qualify to study for, then it should do the honourable thing by immediately withdrawing his degree certificate and notifying the public.
It should not also stop there. The school is supposed to inform the Nigerian Law School, where he was admitted on the basis of the degree in Law awarded to him by the University of Jos. The Law School will in turn write the Body of Benchers that the basis on which Obono-Obla was called to Bar no longer holds. It is for the Body of Benchers to de-Bar him and also inform the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA) to delist him.
It will also be in the place of the University to write his employer, the Federal Government, informing President Buhari that the ground on which Obono-Obla was appointed into the government no longer holds. It will further be in the University’s place to inform the Police of the outcome of its findings so that Obono-Obla and all those who must have aided and abated the alleged forgery and fraud could be brought to justice.
Meanwhile, it beats imagination that the Federal Government does not feel angry and scandalised over the entire episode. A government truly fighting corruption would have since taken the lead to get to the root of the entire matter and taken a decisive action to exonerate its appointee, Obono-Obla or sack and prosecute him.
Unfortunately, many have alleged that this government would do no such thing since Obono-Obla is neither of the opposition nor a ‘heady’ member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). They have imagined that were Obono-Obla a Senator Bukola Saraki, Senator Dino Melaye, Olisa Metuh, Col. Sambo Dasukki Supreme Court judge and a host of other opposition leaders or unfavoured members the APC, the story would have been different. Obono-Obla would have been deemed guilty until proven innocent. The Inspector General of Police would since have transmitted a horde of his men to surround his home and barricade his street. Gun-wielding and fierce-looking men of the Department of State Security (DSS) would have carried out a midnight ‘sting operation’ on his residence and UNIJOS. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) would since have detained him without trial and drubbed him in the media for obtaining incomes from the Federal Government and clients by false pretence. Police Spokesperson would have paraded his alleged accomplices. He would since have been hauled before a controversial High Court judge in Abuja to stand trial dead or alive.
This is what Senator Shehu Sani calls insecticide treatment as against deodorant treatment for those in the good books of the government. However, it will be one deodorant treatment too many for Nigeria’s image if the government applies sprays as it is doing in the grass cutting, Ikoyigate, and Mainagate scandals. The Obono-Obla matter will hunt the integrity and value of our educational institutions and certificates if not well handled.
In fact, in a country where things work and where outrageous occurrences still rankle, the Nigerian Law School, Body of Benchers, and NBA, should have been asking questions and taking actions by now to unearth the truth to preserve the reputation of the legal profession in Nigeria.
Obono-Obla in particular, should be at the forefront of clearing his name. I suppose the various national televisions where he had field days tongue-lashing judges, senior lawyers, the National Assembly and its leadership, and opposition leaders are still functional. He could still storm any of the studios in his usual boisterous and loquacious ways to clear his name. There was also recent report in a national daily that his controversial Panel procured the services if a spiritualist to help it pinpoint the sports Ekweremadu allegedly buried foreign currencies in Abuja, but ended up a futile effort as the house did not belong to the hunted Senator in first place. Maybe, this is the time he really needs the help of a babalawo.
Whatever choices Obono-Obla, University of Jos, and the presidency makes on this matter, silence their silence is far from golden. It is rather an admission of guilt.
Add this to the recent revelation by the indicted and sacked former SGF, Babachir Lawal (whom the government refuses to prosecute) that he still meets with President Bulgari, you wonder if we really fighting corruption or opposition.
Useni lives in Mararaba, Abuja
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