With the resignation of Kemi Adeosun as minister of finance over certificate forgery, Okoi Obono-Obla, another appointee of President Muhammadu Buahri, is back in the limelight over a similar issue.
Obono-Obla, who is the senior special assistant to the president on prosecution, is alleged to be in possession of an “invalid” O’level result, according to findings by the house of representatives ad hoc panel investigating the special presidential investigative panel for the recovery of public property (SPIP).
The panel had said in the course of its primary assignment, it discovered the presidential aide might have forged his way into the University of Jos where he studied and subsequently, the Nigerian Law School.
The issue first came to light in a petition to the house by the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), regarding the contradictions in the result from the West African Examination Council (WAEC).
In the petition, HURIWA said it investigated the presidential aide and discovered thus: “Obono-Obla gained admission into the University of Jos with a suspected fake WASCE result. Evidence available to us shows that Okoi Obono-Obla (Ofem Okoi Ofem) sat for May/June 1982 (examination registration No. 09403/247) at Mary Knoll College, Ogoja, where he obtained the following results: English Language – C6, Literature in English- Absent, Bible Knowledge- C4, Government- A1, Economics- C5, Mathematics- F9, Chemistry- F9, Biology- F9. We attach herewith a copy of the result issued by WAEC.
“This result can also be easily verified on WAEC result portal by obtaining a PIN card at the cost of N700.00 (Seven hundred naira only).”
The association added that after he was called to bar in 1991. “Ofem Okoi Ofem, for reasons best known to him, changed his name to Okoi Obono-Obla.”
WAEC CONFIRMED RESULT WAS ALTERED
In the light of the startling allegations, the committee had swung into action, digging deeper into the issue and seeking clarification from all parties concerned. Testifying before the house of panel, Femi Ola, deputy WAEC registrar, had told the committee that “available evidence indicate that the results were altered and therefore makes them invalid.”
“Considering the results, particularly on 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,” he had said.
“From our record, the genuine candidate is Ofem Okoi Ofem, 09403/247 of Mary Knoll College, Ogoja. The exam number and number of subjects are the same. The difference is the grade in English literature in which he claimed to have scored C6 despite being marked absent in the true, certified copy.”
While also appearing before the house panel, Isa-Hayatu Chiroma, director-general of Nigerian Law School, Abuja, had said the school has no record of Okoi Obono-Obla’s WAEC results, and thus cannot comment on its authenticity.
He had said under the Legal Education Act, the school is not required to demand for candidates’ O’Level results, adding that the minimum admission requirements is the Bachelor of Laws (LLB).
PANEL REPORT INDICTS OBONO-OBLA
The committee made several attempts to invite the presidential aide to its hearing but was not successful, leading to request for his arrest. The panel, however, indicted him. In its final report, it recommended the withdrawal of both the law degree and law school certificate obtained with the result.
NIGERIANS DEMAND HIS RESIGNATION
While the Adeosun scandal got to its climax, some Nigerians took to the social media to demand action on the allegations against the presidential aide.
They asked the president to act on the house repetition and sack him or order a fresh investigation into the issue.
Writing via his Twitter handle, Chidi Odinkalu, former chairman of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said keeping Obono-Obla in his job would be a “mess.”
“With forged certificate, Obono-Obla isn’t even a graduate to begin with,” he tweeted.
OBONO-OBLA HEADED TO COURT
Obono-Obla has since headed to court, challenging the power of the committee to investigate both the presidential panel as well as his educational qualifications.
He had said, when the allegations were first made, that they are the outcome of “a hatchet job masterminded by some members of the national assembly who are under investigation by my panel” and that “the intention is to smear and ridicule me.”
His line was switched off when TheCable called for reaction. Garba Shehu, spokesman to the president, did not respond to inquiries made by TheCable.