A petition has been filed against the clearance issued to Chris Isiguzo, a two-time vice-president of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), who is running for the union’s highest office.
In the petition addressed to the chairman and secretary of the NUJ credentials committee, Isiguzo is accused of not having the required qualification.
In the union’s constitution, the national secretary is expected to publish and circulate the list of all candidates and their CVs to all state councils six weeks before the date of the election.
In the final list of cleared candidates released by the union, Isiguzo, from Enugu council, is sixth with his qualification reading ‘ND Mass Com.’
“Contrary to what was published by the committee, the said Mr Isiguzo does not possess any educational qualification,” read the petition, signed by Ngozi Agbo, an Enugu-based journalist.
It added that the issue is now a subject of litigation at the National Industrial Court in Enugu where the claimant is seeking that Isiguzo stop parading himself as a national officer because he does not have a certificate.
“The said Mr Isiguzo, instead of producing his certificate in the said case, has been deploying different delay tactics to frustrate the case,” the petition further read.
The committee, the petitioner alleged, did not state the institution where Isiguzo claimed to have obtained his certificate.
The petitioner demanded that the committee avail them the institution and year Isiguzo “purportedly obtained this spurious certificate”.
OBTAINED OND AND HND SAME YEAR?
According to the committee, Isiguzoro had provided a national diploma (ND) certificate in mass communication.
The certificate, dated December 31, 1998, was obtained from the Federal Polytechnic, Oko.
Surprisingly, however, a certificate with reference number FPO/MC/96/76224 dated November 15, 1998 and seen by TheCable, also showed “Isinguzoro Ikechuckwu C” was awarded a higher national diploma (HND) in mass communication from the same institution same year.
That would mean he got his OND and HND the same year.
The certificate, bearing the stamp of the school’s exams and records department, has “Isiguzoro” graduating with cumulative grade points average (CGPA) of 3.28.
Checks by TheCable showed that November 15, 1998 which the HND certificate was issued fell on a Sunday, which most institutions do not open for administration business.
“We will investigate and respond as soon as we have information,” Dave Osai, one of the school’s officials, told TheCable .
“Isinguzoro Ikechuckwu Christopher”, again in August of the same year, obtained a diploma certificate in public administration from Hyles-Anderson College. With student number HAC-95-97 NG, Isiguzo graduated from the US college with a second class grade.
That would mean three diplomas in one year.
The college is yet to respond to TheCable’s enquiry over this, but information available shows that the school is an unaccredited Bible college owned by the Baptist Church.
On the school’s website, public administration is not listed as one of the courses offered. Expectedly, the college offers courses around “Bible diploma” and “pastoral theology”.
In a letter dated August 28, 2018, the credentials committee said it met to deliberate on the claims and objections raised against some aspirants, and it had received petitions questioning Isiguzo’s educational qualification.
“The petitioners claimed that there are alleged issues of certificate authenticity and claimed he has court affidavits,” the committee wrote.
“The petitioners were unable to substantiate their allegations,” it added.
The allegations, according to the committee, were commonplace and the petitioners did not provide any evidence to back their allegations.
“Since Christopher Isiguzo provided the basic qualification required for the position he is vying for, the committee upholds the earlier clearance issued to him. He provided a National Diploma Certificate in Mass Communication obtained from the Federal Polytechnic, Oko, dated 31st December 1998.”
When contacted, Dahiru Garba, chairman of the credentials committee, said the petitioners could have gone to Isiguzo’s school to authenticate his certificate as this is not the duty of his committee.
“In every allegation, the onus of truth lies with the accuser,” he told TheCable.
“We are to clear candidate on the basis of credentials tendered before us. Isiguzo tendered a national diploma from a polytechnic in Oko, and it was on the basis of this diploma that we cleared him. Up till now there is no evidence before the committee that the diploma is fake. And it is not for the committee to go round all the schools in Nigeria to authenticate certificates.
“Our members can go and investigate if they want, and if they bring forward evidence, the committee will act.”
Dissatisfied with Garba’s reaction, Agbo, the petitioner, said the committee should make public a copy of the documents submitted by Isiguzo.
“We are all journalists, let’s have a photocopy of the certificate, because that’s the bone of contention,” she said.
Apparently taking a swipe at Kemi Adeosun, minister of finance who reportedly forged her NYSC exemption certificate, Agbo added that journalists shouldn’t condemn politicians when they are also guilty of forgery.
She said it would be difficult to approach the school Isiguzo claimed he attended if the committee didn’t provide them with copies of his certificate.
“If we are sending a petition to the school, we should have a copy of what he submitted and this is what we take to them and ask to verify for us.”
Isiguzo, the man whose qualification is being challenged, laughed the allegation off — describing it as unfounded.
“The petition has already been dismissed because it is unfounded,” he told TheCable.
“Some people decided to constitute themselves as tools in the hands of a particular person. Of course, they were dismissed clearly.”
He added that the person the petitioners are making a case for is also running for a national office and had his clearance deferred because he could not present his certificates.
“In fact, it took him three weeks before he could even bring what looks like a school cert,” he said.
Insisting that he submitted a national diploma certificate which was all needed as requirement, he refused to comment on the possibility of getting three diploma certificates in the same year.
Meanwhile, Eniola Bello, the managing director of THISDAY where Isiguzo works, refused to comment when contacted by TheCable.
He simply said: “We will investigate the allegation if there is any cause to do so.”
The NUJ election will hold during the sixth triennial delegates’ conference of the union from October 3-5, 2018 in Abeokuta, Ogun state.
According to the credentials committee, 33 candidates will contest election to fill national offices of the union.