Details of how the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) sent a team of lawyers and party agents to Cambridge University in London in search of evidence against President Muhammadu Buhari over his West African School Certificate (WASCE) have emerged.
In an attempt to nail Buhari at the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal, the PDP, LEADERSHIP gathered, sent a team of lawyers and party agents to the University of Cambridge to confirm the authenticity of Buhari’s certificate.
It was further gathered that apart from sending the delegation to the institution, the PDP also made a request seeking potential evidence, citing doubts over the authenticity of the president’s WASC results.
Although the leadership of the opposition party claimed that they were not aware of the said certificate verification trip, a credible source within the PDP confirmed that its representatives were sent to the institution for the mission.
It was learnt that team was stunned when its frantic efforts within and outside Nigeria led only to a finding that the president indeed wrote the WASC Cambridge examination and passed with six credits.
The source said that apart from the PDP and its associates, some media houses also requested Cambridge to provide them with a confirmation of the president’s certificate.
He said: “Cambridge Assessment International Education issued the certifying statement that indeed President Buhari sat for his examinations in 1961 when it received a request from the president to do so.”
When LEADERSHIP contacted the PDP Secretariat last night, its officials said that they were unaware of the said trip to Cambridge.
Similarly, PDP spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, said that the so-called PDP investigators to Cambridge were unknown to him.
He said: “I am not aware as the spokesman of the PDP that it went to Cambridge. But I am fully aware that the chief of staff, Abba Kyari, admitted in an open court that he collected the certificate.”
The disclosure of the PDP’s trip to London came amid the circulation on Friday of a pre-2015 election video, which created the impression that Buhari’s certificate remained a contentious issue.
In a press statement he issued on Friday, the secretary of the Initiative to Save Democracy (ISD), Mr. Oladele Peter said it was subjudice for the PDP to continue “this futile attempt at preempting the judgment of the Presidential Election Tribunal.”
According to him, “the desperation of the PDP is frightening, very frightening to say the least. They will stop at nothing and I expect Nigerians to be aware of their antics by now. They have peddled all kinds of falsehood against the president especially the claim that he does not have a certificate but have always failed,” Peter said.
He recalled that the first attempt by the party to ridicule Buhari was in 2014 before the 2015 general elections, stressing that, if they had any evidence contrary to what had been presented in court and what they themselves discovered during their surreptitious investigations and the evidence sourced from reputable Cambridge University and tendered in open court, they should present it.
“The PDP is free to present its counter-evidence if there is any but they know that there is no such evidence. They are only playing on the emotions of Nigerians by peddling fake news; a 2015 video deliberately slanted cannot help their cause. It is time Nigerians become more aware of this,” he said.
Peter added it was another signal of desperation that the opposition party had even gone to the extent of displaying an old video in which the minister of Information, Ahaji Lai Mohammed, was deliberately taken out of context.
“This is a very old video, for those of us who watch Channels TV, we were stunned to see the video making the rounds; it is old and ridiculous. If you watch it, you will find that Alhaji Mohammed never said they should pardon the president, instead he said if someone does not find his or her certificate after 53 years, he could be pardoned.
“It is unbelievable how the opposition party and its backers continue to push a media campaign hoping to confuse everybody, yet in the court of law, their case was clearly shown to be hopeless and baseless,” he said.
Besides the Cambridge University credentials, Buhari’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun, presented in court a class photograph of the president and his classmates including the former president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Umaru Abdullahi and the late Shehu Musa Yar’Adua.
The Cambridge University’s certifying statement was personally obtained by the president’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari while Mallam Suleman Mai Adua, Buhari’s classmate in Katsina Provincial Secondary School presented to the court the group photograph of the school’s 1961 set.
President Must Quit, Opposition Party Insists
But the PDP yesterday insisted that the trending video of an interview by Mohammed over the certificate saga was a direct guilty plea.
Ologbondiyan told a press conference in Abuja that the president should save the judiciary and the country further troubles by resigning and vacating the presidential seat following the official admission that he (Buhari) does not possess a WAEC certificate, contrary to his claims and disposition before the law.
The PDP spokesman, who accused the Buhari Presidency of pushing out the video, said that it was a mockery that the minister pleaded with Nigerians to pardon the president over his false WAEC certificate claims.
He said that it was a deliberate ploy by Mohammed to appeal to sentiments, seeing that “Mr. President had failed to defend himself before the Presidential Election Petitions Tribunal.
The party berated the Buhari Presidency for believing that in pushing the video into the public space, it could influence the mind of the tribunal to bend the law after solid evidence had been presented before it against the president.
Ologbondiyan said: “The PDP holds that the pronouncement and appeal for pardon issued by the government’s spokesperson, who is also a lawyer, is a direct guilty plea, which cannot save President Buhari from the course of justice in this matter.
“From the official pronouncement by the minister on a national television, it is no longer in dispute before all Nigerians that President Buhari does not possess the educational certificate he claimed in the affidavit he deposed to in his presidential nomination form.
“In this latest shenanigan, President Buhari and his handlers ought to have known that the law, which the judiciary is bound to uphold, is a respecter of no man. The PDP reminds President Buhari of how his Presidency vehemently applied the law in similar circumstance to remove a head of an arm of government; a situation, which renders his plea for pardon a complete nullity before the law.
“The PDP holds that if President Buhari indeed seeks for pardon from Nigerians, he should do the needful by toeing the path of honour and vacating the presidential seat without further delay.
“It is disheartening that President Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) would put our nation through the troubles of legal hassles when they knew all the while that they were building something on nothing,” he said.
The party, therefore, urged the judiciary to consider the evidence before it and rescue Nigeria by expediting its verdict to point to nothing other than the justice of the matter in the presidential election petition.
You Are Cancerous Party In Need Of Treatment – Kogi Gov
Meanwhile, Kogi State governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello has described the PDP as a “cancerous party in need of treatment.”
Governor Bello’s may have been prompted by allegations by the PDP that the governor sent thugs to disrupt their recent governorship primaries in Lokoja, the state capital.
After meeting with Buhari alongside the APC national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, at the weekend at the presidential villa in Abuja, the governor told State House correspondents that PDP’s primaries had always been marred with violence, adding that the incident of last week was not a surprise.
He said: “If you monitor all the activities of the PDP in Kogi State, the ones I know of right from the award congresses to the local government congresses, to the state congresses, have always been marred or characterised with violence, gunshots, maiming of one another, and all kinds of attacks.
“So, the outcome of the last primaries which they conducted shouldn’t take anyone by surprise. We have a larger number of delegates in Kogi State. We started our exercise early enough and finished early enough in peace. I am not a member of PDP I wouldn’t go in there and conduct it for them.
“So, it is their character, it is their stock in trade and should rather look inward instead of pointing accusing fingers outside. When you have a cancer and you don’t treat it and you are treating malaria, you will never get rid of the cancer. That is the problem the PDP has, they have cancer and should treat it and shouldn’t look outside, Bello said.
On his level of preparedness for the November governorship election, Bello said: “I am not just preparing now, I have been ready for the election even before the last general elections that produced Mr. President, members of the National Assembly and the state houses of assembly. So, we are well prepared for the election. As for victory, I think by the grace of God, it is assured.”
The governor, however, remarked declared that the party would not take anything for granted in the November polls, stressing that he would approach it with all seriousness.
“Like the chairman has said, we are not going to take anything for granted. Whether the candidate of the opposition party is strong or not, we will approach the election with all seriousness and ensure that it is conducted freely and fairly and we will become victorious by the grace of God. On November 17 we will be announced the winner of the poll,” Governor Bello said.
He boasted that his chances of winning the election were very high in view of his performance when compared to previous PDP administrations in the state.
Bello dismissed the insinuation that his administration owed workers’ salaries as he declared that he was up to date on salary payment.
He explained that “the people of the state have seen my performance against those of the previous PDP governors. In less than three and half years, they have seen all my wonderful performances.
“In fact, starting with even the issue of salaries, it’s just that all along, I have chosen not to speak about it because it is a problem I inherited. And in any case, governance is a continuum; you inherit both assets and liabilities.
“When you inherit assets, you make use of it, when you inherit liabilities or trouble you try to solve it, you don’t complain about it. So, I refused to make comments about the issue of salaries.
“As a matter of fact, the issues of salaries arrears I have already accepted by my immediate predecessor he inherited from the Ibro’s administration. These past two PDP governors couldn’t solve it, I have come to solve it. That already is kudos to this administration and the people of Kogi State should vote for us.”
On infrastructure, Governor Bello said every local government in Kogi are dotted with various infrastructural development adding that the people of Kogi State have spoken before in the last general election, they will speak again.
He also gave himself a pass mark on security, asserting that Kogi is the second safest state in Nigeria.
“Lastly, if you look at Kogi State in the past, if you are a traveller you will hold your breath. The inhabitants as early as 6:30 am they will only manage to pray their prayer and in the evening they will manage to pray their evening prayer and go to bed. But today, even along the streets of Kogi you will see people jogging and night life is back as a result of improved security situation in the state.
“Kogi State is the second safest state in Nigeria today, I didn’t say it. We have various bodies that rate the performance of various governments and administrations, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the rest of them, they said it.
“So, if you look at it, we have performed so wonderfully that the people of Kogi State are eager that 16th November should come and let them speak with their votes and I know they will speak very well and re-elect me, the APC and we shall become victorious,” Bello stated.
On his relationship with labour leaders in the state, he said: “Well, it is not a battle we are going into, we are going into a contest, one thing I know is that it is going to be free and fair and I am going to win that election by the grace of God. The APC under the leadership of the national chairman is going to campaign vigorously and we shall become victorious.
“The people who have decided to become rebellious to bring down the institutions of higher learning at certain point in time have today seen the benefits of telling them to please give peace a chance.
“They have given peace a chance and you can see the last strike, Kogi State didn’t join. We have a very stable educational system. As per all the labour leaders, we are moving on harmoniously; you can confirm from the various chapters. If they were politicians, labour leaders would have taken the forefront to campaign for my re-election. In every local government area in Kogi State are dotted with various infrastructural projects,” he stated.
On his part, Oshiomole expressed the confidence that the APC emerge victorious in the November election.
“How ready can we be? You can see the governor we always refer to him as…when people say not too young to run, he didn’t wait for the law to be amended before he ran and won. Part of the job has already been done, in approaching the primaries we had to go round the state to campaign, although it was limited to party members, in truth it was actually a national campaign.
“Looking at the issues he inherited in Kogi, especially the non-payment of salaries, last Thursday, he was able to announce that even the salary of August had been paid before the 29th August. He said he had paid August salaries, find out how many governors have done same, that I can confirm as a labour ambassador.
“That means that the arrears left behind by his two predecessors he has cleared them along with pensions, even at a time of huge financial challenges. I believe he has acquitted himself because like every first time governor, there must be things in his heart he will like to pursue. I think for the people of the state, rather than try to experiment with new hands, they say a bird at hand is worth two in the bush,” he said.
“We have also seen the candidate nominated by the PDP, we want to make sure when we go to the field of play, the people will have no problems voting for Governor Bello as their preferred candidate,” Oshiomole said.