Section 131 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) read thus: “A person shall be qualified for election to the office of the President if: (a) He is a citizen of Nigeria by birth;
(b) He has attained the age of forty years;
(c) He is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party, and
(d) He has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.
According to this section of the Nigerian constitution, Bola Ahmed Tinubu qualifies to be President of Nigeria on the grounds of birth because he was born in Nigeria. He also qualifies to be President because he is above the prescribed 40 years of age. In fact, at more than 80, he is doubly qualified.
His being sponsored by the All Progressives Congress (APC) also means he is qualified. But did he meet the provision of the last section of the constitution, which says he must be educated up to at least a school certificate or its equivalent?
In 1999 when Tinubu contested election for the office of the governor of Lagos state, he made depositions on oath to the effect that he graduated from Government College Ibadan in Oyo state.
A few months into his administration of Lagos state, the News broke that Tinubu had forged both his age and academic records. A petition signed by the duo of Alhaji Jameed Seriki and Dr Waliu Balogun-Smith, dated August 12, 1999, accused him of lying on oath over his age and academic records.
The petitioners alleged that Tinubu’s claims in INEC Form CF. 001 that he attended Government College Ibadan and another claim that he attended Chicago State University were all false. However, the toll fell on the Lagos State House of Assembly to investigate the claims. The House looked the other way because all its members were of the same political party, like Tinubu –Alliance for Democracy (AD).
In an investigative report by The News Magazine, Tinubu’s claim of having attended St. Pauls School, Aroloya, was found to be false as the school did not exist as at the date Tinubu claimed he attended it.
The News Magazine would later find out that his name was not on the register of Government College Ibadan as at the dates he claimed.
The magazine also punctured Bola Tinubu’s other educational claims. The News Magazine was at the time published by Bayo Onanuga, one of Tinubu’s most ardent lapdogs today.
One would ask: what happened?
Disturbed by these developments, Chief Gani Fawehinmi approached the Federal High Court and sought an order to compel the Nigeria Police to investigate the allegations of forgery against Tinubu and prosecute him if found to have made false claims on oath.
Chief Fawehinmi was represented in the matter by Ebun Olu-Adegboruwa, now a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), while Tinubu was then represented by Prof. Yemi Osinbajo SAN, who at the time was the Attorney General of Lagos state and Commissioner for Justice. The Nigeria Police was represented by Sunday Ehindero, Commissioner of Police in charge of Legal.
They all appeared and argued the matter before Justice Sunday Wilson Egbo-Egbo, who upheld the argument that Tinubu could not be investigated because he was protected by Section 308 of the Constitution.
Not satisfied, Fawehinmi took the challenge up to the Supreme Court, which dismissed the case on technical grounds.
Soon after the matter, Justice Egbo-Egbo was fired by the National Judicial Council (NJC).
However, Tinubu had a miraculous turnaround when filling his INEC nomination forms for re-election in 2003.
In the same INEC Form CF001, where only four years earlier he made claims to academic attainments, including Government College Ibadan, where he claimed to have gotten his School Certificate, Tinubu, like a chameleon, changed. He entered N/A in all the columns requesting his academic qualifications.
Earlier in 1999, Senator Bola Tinubu had claimed to have attended St. Pauls School and Government College Ibadan, but by 2003 he entered N/A on the column for his primary school and secondary school attainments.
According to the interpretation of abbreviations, N/A could either mean Not Applicable, Not Available, Not Assessed or No Answer. All these were from a Tinubu, who, while defending the Fawehinmi legal challenge, claimed that his academic records got lost while in exile.
This is beside the allegation that the NYSC certificate presented by Bola Ahmed Tinubu to INEC as part of the documents necessary for his clearance to contest for the prime office does not belong to him. According to a publication in Premiumtimes, the certificate presented by Tinubu to INEC bore the name Tinubu, Bola Adekunle, indicating that it also may have been forged.
Information gathered from those who have details of Tinubu’s records reveals that the documents showing the differences in name came under scrutiny by the Presidential Petitions Election Court.
Judges of the court, Symphoninews was told, had difficulties reconciling Bola Ahmed Tinubu, as contained in his INEC Form CF001 and Tinubu, Bola Adekunle.
Both names are glaringly not the same. Even Tinubu’s lead counsel, Wole Olanipekun SAN, could not find arguments to defend the differences as Ahmed and Adekunle are different names.
Questions about Tinubu’s eligibility to contest the 2023 presidential election on account of his academic records and allegations of perjury will never go away.
And, as Simon Kolawole of theCable.ng said in his article titled Tinubu’s Lingering Certificate Conundrum, “Tinubu must be prepared to answer questions around the omissions”. This is one of many reasons all Nigerian eyes are now glued to the judiciary. Will the court amend the Nigerian constitution by upholding Tinubu’s qualification to contest for office despite the provision of Section 131(d)?