Kwara governor and botched certificate scandal petition

BIOLA AZEEZ writes on the botched petition written over an alleged certificate scandal against the newly-sworn in the governor of Kwara State, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq.

 

The last governorship election in Kwara State was largely a battle between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the main opposition party in the state, the All Progressives Congress (APC). The election, which was full of political tension and high-fevered campaigns from the camps of the two leading political parties, also witnessed intrigues and subtle blackmails. While the PDP presented Razaq Atunwa as its flag bearer, the APC had Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq as its own candidate, both from the Kwara Central Senatorial District of the state.

Less than 48 hours to the governorship election, held on March 9, and as part of the features of the contest, a member of the PDP in the state, one Adekunle Oluwafemi Abraham, reportedly instituted a court case against the APC flag bearer in the state over the authenticity of his West African Examination Council (WAEC) certificate.

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The case, with suit number KWS/73/2019, was assigned to the court of Justice Adenike Akinpelu of the state High Court, Ilorin. The court went ahead to give the APC governorship candidate 30 days to defend the authenticity of his WAEC certificate.

In the court writ dated Thursday, March 7, 2019, the court ordered the defendant (Abdurahman Abdulrazaq) to “within 30 days after the service of this writ on you inclusive of the day of such service, you do cause an appearance to be entered in an action at the suit of Adekunle Oluwafemi Abraham and take notice that in default of you doing so, the claimant may proceed therein and judgment may be given in your absence.”

The claimant in his statement on oath said “while examining the personal particulars of the defendant, he was curious about the purported West African Examination Council (WAEC) School Certificate No. SC180683 purportedly dated June, 1976 of the defendant particularly, the way the defendant’s name is written as “RASAQ A R” which from my personal experience, the WAEC as a standard examination body in West Africa does not normally abbreviate names on the school certificates issued by it.

“That the way and manner the defendant’s name appears on his purported WAEC School Certificate No. SC180683 dated June, 1976 raised my suspicion that the said WAEC No. SC180683, dated June, 1976, could not have been issued by WAEC and I reported my suspicion to my political party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which promised to look into my complaint of my suspicion.

“That I also know as a fact that the defendant did not sit for West African Examination Council School Certificate and was therefore not issued with the purported WAEC School Certificate No. SC180683 dated June, 1976 submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by the defendant.”

The plaintiff also contended that “the WAEC School Certificate No. SC180683 allegedly issued to the defendant by WAEC in June 1976 and submitted to the INEC is a false document. I shall apply to this honourable court to issue a subpoena on WAEC to produce the original of the said certificate.”

He said, with the foregoing, Abdulrazaq was not qualified to contest for the office of governor of Kwara state and further urged the court to declare that the APC candidate lied on oath, submitted forged documents and stand disqualified from contesting the governorship election.

The plaintiff, who attached to the process filed before the court the forms and attached documents submitted to INEC by the APC gubernatorial candidate, was represented by O. M. Atoyebi and E. O. Oguntimehin.

However, the APC governorship candidate, through his media aide, Rafiu Ajakaye, said the purported court case was the antics of a dying dynasty, adding that the public should disregard what he said was a mischievous propaganda.

“We see this as a last ditch desperate antic of a dying political dynasty clutching at straws just some 48 hours until its political career is buried. For the record, we are not aware of any such pending case or a court order in Kwara State or anywhere in Nigeria.

“It is on record that Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq submitted his WAEC certificate for two previous elections- in 2011 and 2015. In the two instances, the INEC duly vetted his credentials and found them to be genuine. Nothing has changed. Like their recent court case which had since been thrown out, we believe this desperate effort will also fail as the court has no time for busy-bodies,” he said.

On March 14, Abraham alleged that his life was being threatened by unknown people. Speaking with journalists, he said he had continued to receive threat erring text messages from unknown persons, pressure from both community and religious leaders and calls from friends and relations, urging him to withdraw the case in court.

Abraham, who said he instituted the court case upon his personal conviction to expose illegality in the society in line with the anti-corruption posture of the current administration in the country, added that he did not do it in the name of his community, Apado, in Ilorin East Local Government Area or any political party.

Describing himself as an activist from his school days at the University of Ilorin, he said he was a Students’ Union secretary and a departmental head, adding that he would pursue the case to its logical conclusion.

“Instead of being celebrated as a whistle-blower, I am here being castigated by my community. And I don’t see any reason this action should be treated in isolation because there are other cases before this in this country, but which did not attract much attention.

“Yes, I am a member of the PDP, but I am not holding forte for my party or my community. Nobody is sponsoring me. And I hope I deserve a national honour for this action of mine. If we say we are fighting corruption and we are still perpetrating  corruption, it amounts to double talk. When are we getting out of this corruption mess we have found ourselves if we go on like this?”, he asked.

After the elections, which saw the APC candidate coasting home to victory, some secondary school mates of the newly-sworn in Governor AbdulRazaq openly condemned the claim that the politician dropped out of the Government College, Kaduna.

In a statement signed by members of the Government College Kaduna Old Boys Association (GCKOBA), namely, Kabiru Yaro, Abdulmalik Giwa and Sanusi Ramallam, the schoolmates said the claim was a “smear campaign”. They recalled that Abdulrazaq bore the school registration number 1841 and was a member of the popular El-Kanemi House.

However, as all had awaited court proceedings on the next adjourned date of June 10, 2019 for mention in the suit accusing Governor Abdulrazaq of certificate scandal, the petitioner, Adekunle Abraham, on Thursday last week, announced discontinuation of the case in court.

While he did not give any reason for the sudden decision, Abraham, in a notice of discontinuance of Suit No KWS/73/2019, dated May 21, 2019 and filed on May 22, 2019, said he “hereby wholly discontinues” the case against the defendant.

Though Abraham did not state any reason for the sudden decision to terminate the case, Nigerian Tribune gathered from members of the APC in the state that his decision was predicated on the submission of the official confirmation of Abdulrazaq’s WAEC certificate in the respondent’s proof of evidence. The confirmation was sent by the examination body through the legal team that had earlier applied for same.

“Not only this, the governor-elect’s legal team has also filed a number of depositions that proved Abraham’s claim that WAEC doesn’t issue certificate with initials to be false. The depositions contain a number of certificates with initials and within the years the governor-elect left secondary school,” said a source within the party.

However, political pundits in the state said the reason for discontinuation of the case was beyond the purported filing of the official confirmation of Abdulrazaq’s WAEC Certificate in the respondent’s proof of evidence.

Investigations gathered that the court case may soon be brought to an end as, according to the expectations of some APC members, the court may strike out the case at the next adjournment date on June 10.

It was also gathered that the discontinuation of the certificate scandal case may be an end to the PDP petition in the election petition tribunal, considering the fact that the trial at the tribunal was based on the WAEC Certificate of the APC governorship candidate in the 2019 elections.

However, some political analysts in the state said that June 10 may just be a beginning of another round of political intrigues in the various camps within the state chapter of the APC on one hand and accusations and counter-accusations between the new APC government and the out gone PDP administration in the state.

“It may not be over yet, considering reports that some members of the APC in the state were actually involved in the case of the alleged certificate scandal of the governor being taken to court in the first place. If this is investigated and found to be so, it could further widen perceived differences among camps in the party. It was also said that the APC members said to be used a PDP member to pursue the case in court,” a member of the Action Alliance (AA) in the state said.

While everyone wait to hear the actual reasons for the discontinuation of the court case from Mr Adekunle Abraham, it was gathered that he had relocated outside the state with his family, after he was said to have realised that his life was allegedly under threat, despite engaging vigilante for protection.

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