With barely a month to the general election, a socio-political pressure group, the Leadership and Accountability Initiative, has petitioned the Secretary of Nigeria Military Board and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) over the alleged certificate scandal rocking the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Maj-Gen. Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.).
The group’s letter which was signed by the Executive Coordinator, Mr. Henry Shield, with the title, ‘Application for Information,’ and obtained on Sunday demanded that the public be availed with the credentials of the APC candidate as claimed in the sworn affidavit.
Shield noted that the group’s application was sequel to Sections 1 and 7 of the Freedom of Information (FoI) Act, adding that the claims by Buhari are spurious and lack merit.
The group in the petition to INEC, wanted to know “if Buhari submitted any academic certificate(s) when he contested the 2003, 2007 and 2011 presidential elections?
“Has Buhari submitted any academic certificate(s) in respect of the upcoming February 14, presidential election?
“Does an affidavit in lieu of academic certificates not require a candidate to list their academic qualifications and certificates obtained?
“Did Buhari submit a birth certificate or a sworn affidavit of age declaration in respect of the upcoming February 14 election?”
The petition dated January 6, further read: “ Buhari served in the Nigerian Army and rose to the rank of a Major-General.
“He is presently aspiring for the Office of the President on the platform of the APC. Section 131 (d) of the 1999 Constitution however states that an aspirant for that office must possess a minimum of a school certificate.
“In-line with this, Buhari swore to an affidavit at the High Court of Justice, FCT, Abuja on November 24, 2014 claiming that ‘All my academic documents as filed in my presidential form, ‘President APC/001/2015’ are currently with the Secretary Military Board as at the time of this affidavit.”
The letter, which was also copied to the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and Chief of Army Staff (COAS), also tasked the Nigeria Military Board to act expeditiously on the subject matter, stressing that the public would like to know the authenticity of Buhari’s credentials.
“Standing on the strength of Sections 1 and 7 of the FoI Act, we wish to most respectfully apply for the information pertaining to the Academic Records of Buhari as claimed in his affidavit,” they demanded.
In a related development, natives of the nation’s capital, Abuja under the banner of Original Inhabitants Development Association of Abuja (OIDA) have asked the two major presidential candidates, President Goodluck Jonathan (PDP) and Buhari (APC) to campaign in their villages or lose their votes.
The President of OIDA, Pastor Danladi Jeji, disclosed this at the weekend, during the third FCT Heritage Day celebration and launching of N200 million education endowment fund of the nine indigenous tribes of the FCT held in Kuje town at the weekend.
According to Jeji, failure to factor the indigenous villages in their campaign, will see the presidential candidates lose the critical “one-quarter of the votes cast at the election in each of at least two-thirds of all the states in the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja” as stated in Section 134(b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
He said: “as the nation embarks on the 2015 general election, we call on all presidential candidates, especially of the two biggest political parties, APC and PDP to proceed from Abuja city centre to our indigenous towns like Abaji, Kuje, Bwari, Karu, Zuba etc to campaign vigorously for votes.
“Unless the two top contenders, Jonathan and Buhari step into our indigenous communities to tell us what their governments will do for us, we shall have no choice than to cast our votes elsewhere, thereby depriving them of the critical one-quarter or 25 per cent of the votes needed in the FCT to guarantee their victory.”