Buhari’s certificate: Why PDP court option is good

By Sunny Igboanugo on 30/10/2018

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In a well-tailored editorial by Whirlwindnews.com, of Sunday, October 28, 2018, so many reasons were adduced why the issue of the non-presentation of the educational certificates of President Muhammadu Buhari, must not be allowed to die a natural death. I stand by that fulsome position.

The online newspaper, which has now made its own distinct mark for speaking truth to power, had raised some pertinent questions.

One, does the wordings of the Nigerian Constitution to the effect that a person seeking election into the office of the President “must be educated up to” secondary school certificate, mean that not possessing either the West African School Certificate (WASC), now West African Examination Council (WAEC), certificate, or its equivalent, is fatal to the aspiration of such a person? Conversely, does possession of higher qualifications without WASC/WAEC be ignored on that account? Of course, the jury is still out on the arguments for and against.

Regardless, most of the commentators, seem to miss the point, when they concentrate on this this argument regarding the issue of President Muhammadu Buhari’s credentials with INEC. The President, may well win the argument that he needn’t submit anything, as those escalating the argument of the real constitutional requirements, suggest.

But the crux of the matter is the President’s assertion before INEC. If Buhari, had at the beginning, told INEC that he did not have a WASC/WAEC certificate and that his military training would suffice, there might have been no need to stress the entire country with this matter. It would have mitigated the arguments and the current hullaballoo. But, that was not the case. The President, not only claimed that he possessed the said certificate, but went ahead to present the score, he allegedly got in each subject.

So, he is caught up in the principle of Affirmati non neganti incumbit probation, which simply means in law that the burden of proof is the obligation a party that makes a claim. In other words, he who asserts, must prove. Thus, if the President claims he has the certificates, it is his duty to produce them and not that of anyone else.

I therefore feel uncomfortable with the argument being put up by the President’s handlers that since the he claimed that his certificates were with the military, anybody disputing it should leave him and go to the military authorities and make the inquiry and probably obtain the certificates themselves.

Nothing could accentuate standing logic on its head more succinctly. It is solely the problem of Buhari and that of no one else to obtain those documents and present them to the appropriate authorities as required by law. I’m glad that it is on this ground that the PDP is preparing to go to court to confront the issue.

THISDAY report on this,  quotes Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP spokesman as saying: “The president deposed to an affidavit that his certificates were with the Army; but the Army denied the claim. The court will have to determine whether candidate Buhari perjured, and if he did, whether he is a fit and proper person to hold high office. Secondly should he be allowed to use perjury to qualify to contest again?”

That, exactly, is the point. The logic of the argument does not support the position of the President and his handlers, who maintain that having treated the matter in the run to the 2015 election, it is now rested and the nation should move on.

On his part, the President, while trying to dismiss the issue, said in a statement, on Monday, through his spokesman, Garuba Shehu, said: “This is a waste of time because we have the record of this and of higher qualifications obtained by hard work and truly merited by Mr President.

“This certificate story is an old one. It is a settled issue in the courts. To approach the court to pursue a matter long settled by the temple of justice is an abuse of the judicial system. It is shameful, disgusting and disgraceful.

“It is clear to all at this time that the PDP, facing an imminent humiliating defeat wants to sow division and chaos by seeking the destruction of the institutional structures that support our young democracy.

“They are attacking the courts and the police, they are molesting INEC commissioners. They are theatrical in spreading falsehoods against persons including the President.”

It is unthinkable that Buhari, would toe this line in a matter that is as constitutional as it is moral, especially as he has given himself out over the decades as a pristine, straightforward and incorruptible personality, instead of shaming his detractors, by retrieving the document from the Nigerian Army, and presenting same to INEC.

That is assuming that he is not being misrepresented by his aides, as no one has actually heard from him directly. But, it is also unthinkable to suppose that the aides would be speaking on their own without consulting him.

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Buhari

I listened to Minister of Information and culture, Lai Mohammed, on Sunday, on Channels Television, describing the demand for Buhari’s certificate as a distraction given that the matter had been rested and the fact that the President rose to be a General in the Nigerian Army.

One of his defence is that President Olusegun Obasanjo, had said in 2014 that it was an insult to be demanding such document from a man who had risen to the zenith of his career in that field.

Hear him: “We have moved beyond that. Let me quote what former President Olusegun Obasanjo said in 2015 during this saga of the President’s certificate.

“Obasanjo said that it is an insult on a man, who rose to the echelon in Nigeria Army, attended the War College in the US and Staff College in Nigeria, for anyone to start asking whether he has a certificate or not. I think I want to rest it there.

“This was a man who had before, during and after the (2015) election, had a reunion with his secondary school colleagues which was widely covered by all the media. I think we should move on to something.”

These, again, are beside the point. Obasanjo’s opinion, at a point he was a staunch supporter of Buhari for his present job, cannot substitute for a clear constitutional requirement. Else, Obasanjo himself would have cited his own career in the military and even his becoming a Head of State and brokering the Third Republic, as ample reasons for asking INEC to waive the requirement at the time he contested his own election as President. Yet, on the two occasions he did, his certificate was never the issue, as he duly presented them. He never told anybody that they were in the possession of the military, even as an older and senior officer to Buhari.

Again, if Buhari, could have the presence of mind to organise his classmates to celebrate with him, it comes naturally that he could also get the military to release his papers or get an attestation in form of Certified True Copy (CTC), from the issuing authorities of those documents. In fact, it is easier to get these documents than to organise those events. No amount of photo-ups, can substitute for what the constitution demands.

Nobody should believe the story from the President’s camp that people are trying to resurrect a settled issue. It is wrong to so assert. The matter was overlooked along the way when it could not be resolved before the 2015 election came knocking. Besides there was also the feeling that the military was under the influence of the PDP and then President, Goodluck Jonathan. That is no longer the case. Now Buhari is in charge.

So, all eyes are on the PDP to carry out its plan to have a judicial pronouncement on the matter. Save from Buhari himself, acting fast to pre-empt this move, by presenting the certificate, he cannot be crying foul, as he did, on Monday, that the PDP step, was an attempt to undermine the Nigerian institutions by approaching the courts for the resolution of the matter.

In fact, the reverse could actually be the case in that many Nigerians believe that the President, is the one attempting to stymie the work of INEC, by browbeating it into accepting an affidavit instead of his documents.

It remains to be seen what the court finally decides. But this is the time to bring this matter to full closure.

 

Igboanugo, a journalist, writes from Abuja

 

 

 

Source Whirlwindnews.com

Posted on October, 30 2018

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