Nigerian rights activists and a group have demanded an independent probe into the forgery of the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) certificate by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in Kwara State, Razak Atunwa.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Atunwa procured a forged discharge certificate of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) which he submitted to the PDP to prove his eligibility for public office.
The crime came into the open months after PREMIUM TIMES exposed then finance minister, Kemi Adeosun, for engaging in similar conduct, and just a little over a month since she was forced to resign as a result of the scandal.
Mr Atunwa, who is currently a member of the House of Representatives, studied law at the University of East London, graduating in 1992 at age 23.
He claimed in the nomination documents he submitted to the PDP that he qualified for law practice in the United Kingdom after obtaining undergraduate and master’s degrees at separate universities in London.
He further claimed to have participated in the youth service scheme between 1995 and 1996, a claim exposed by PREMIUM TIMES as false.
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.
Investigations by this newspaper, however, showed that Mr. Atunwa’s so-called discharge certificate is fake.
A group, Kwara Must Change, in a statement signed by its president, Abdulrazaq Hamzat, called for an independent probe into the certificate forgery allegation.
The group also called 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,” the group said.
In its reaction, the national coordinator of Education Rights Campaign (ERC), Hassan Taiwo, described Nigeria’s ruling elite as “a bunch of crooks.”
”Like I have said on a similar occasion in the past, this periodic scandal involving appointed and elected officials of the ruling party as well as their aspirants for the 2019 general elections confirms what we, socialists, have always said; which is that the capitalist ruling elites are nothing but a bunch of crooks who would go to any length, including forging certificates, in order to acquire political power and loot the treasury. There are no half-measures to address this kind of malaise,” he said.
Mr Taiwo said Mr Atunwa should not only be disqualified but be prosecuted, adding that a similar issue of certificate forgery by former governor of Lagos state, Bola Tinubu, is yet to be investigated.
”Yes Mr Atunwa should not only be disqualified from contesting but also prosecuted for committing the crime of forgery. But for every Atunwa prosecuted and jailed, ten other Atunwas would arise.
”Don’t forget we once had Salisu Buhari and even Bola Ahmed Tinubu whose cases of fraudulent certificates are either still hanging in the hazy labyrinth of Nigeria’s judicial system or soon forgotten by a populace already accustomed to the bad and ugly.
”The reality is that having spent the past 18 years presiding over the rapacious looting of our economy and pauperisation of vast numbers of people thus making Nigeria the poverty capital of the world, the entirety of the capitalist ruling elite have lost any moral justification or legitimacy to continue to rule.
”Today no section of the capitalist ruling elite is genuinely popular among the people the same way Awolowo or Azikiwe or even Balewa could be said to be popular back then. The only way they can continue to get to power is through forgery, stealing, manipulation and massive rigging.
”That is why they continue to parade the worst of humanity as their candidates for elective positions. The only reason they are still in power is that the leadership of the working people, especially the labour leadership, are not prepared to send them packing.
”We need to send all of them packing as well as their inequitable system and replace this with a democratic socialist system. This is not a task for the future, it is what we must do now if Nigeria is to survive in the next few years.”
The co-founder of Connected Development (CODE), Hamzat Lawal, also called for proper investigation of the matter.
”We cannot elect people into public office when we they do not have any decorum of decency and have chosen to try to beat the system just to try and enjoy what the public office has to offer,” he told our reporter.
”I believe that the law should try to take its course and it should be properly investigated. Integrity should always come forward before anything else. I think the good people of Kwara State should demand for proper investigation of this matter and ensure that justice is served. “