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.
10. It's impossible to see any excuse for retaining Chief Obono-Obla in the role of heading asset recovery for govt. @HMKemiAdeosun's case began as compliance failure. With forged WASC, Obono-Obla isn't even a graduate to begin with. Keeping him there is messed up & beyond /ENDS
— Chidi Odinkalu (@ChidiOdinkalu) September 15, 2018
Below are other reactions and comments regarding the issue:
The SA to the President on Prosecution, Okoi Obono-Obla has been accused of forgery of WAEC certificate. The WAEC Registrar testified before the @HouseNGR that the result was altered & thus invalid. He was indicted in July 2018, but no action was taken by the Presidency. @MBuhari pic.twitter.com/TUkPQNrDJC
— TransparencIT Nigeria (@TransparencITng) August 8, 2018
Obono-Obla is still there with forged WAEC certificate.. irony is that he is SA to the president on prosecution and chairman special investigative panel
— Nwosa EA (@Gaffer_ng) September 14, 2018
Okoi Obono Obla is stubbornly holding onto the position of SA to Buhari on prosecution despite forging WAEC result for his law degree
Buhari has refused to act on the report that found Okoi Obono Obla guilty of WAEC result forgery
Buhari; the grand patron of corruption
— Nafiu T (@nafeezi) September 17, 2018
— Debo Adeniran (@debo_adeniran) September 18, 2018
The Babachir lawal was shielded until he was sacked due publiv out cry and the way @obonoobla has been shielded and has not resign.
— Monamz (@Monamz2) September 17, 2018
Kemi Adeosun is a fugitive from justice
Abdulrasheed Maina is a fugitive from justice
Babachir Lawal is defying justice
Okoi Obono Obla is defying the law
Buhari is defiantly ignoring the call to prosecute these individuals
People of good conscience must resist impunity
— Nafiu T (@nafeezi) September 17, 2018
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.