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Ilemona Onoja: We Don’t Want Tinubu Tried Criminally, But Supreme Court Should Take Cognisance Of Forgery

He said Nigerians need to apologize to Mmesoma Ejikeme if people are defending Tinubu’s forged certificate.

Nigerian Lawyer and Head, New Media Department of the dissolved PDP Presidential Campaign Council, Ilemona Onoja, has said that the stance of the People’s Democratic Party is not for President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to be tries criminally, but for the Supreme Court to take his alleged act of forgery into cognisance.

In an interview with ARISE NEWS on Friday, Onoja spoke on the recent revelation which came during a deposition following the ruling by Judge Nancy Maldonado, which authorized the release of Bola Tinubu’s records at Chicago State University, where it was said that the certificate from CSU that President Tinubu submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was not from the institution.

Onoja then emphasized that the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) did not want Tinubu to be tried criminally, that this was a purely civil matter. He said, “The allegations here are not of a criminal nature. The position of the constitution in section 137 Sub section 1j is with respect to the fact of forgery simplicita. It doesn’t make any provisions with respect to a trial, it doesn’t make any provisions with respect to convictions, it doesn’t make any provisions with respect to punitive measures or a punitive sentence in any way whatsoever.

“The supreme court has held as far back as in 2017 that the mere establishment of forgery simplicita on the face of it is sufficient enough to issue an order disqualifying the candidate from the election, and that is the simple position of the people’s democratic party and its Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.

“While there are other issues where there is sufficient reason for discussion and are worthy of mention, when it comes down to the formulation of a legal issue, for the purposes of filing an appeal to the supreme court, this is a civil matter, it is not criminal in nature, there is no criminal allegation.”

“We’re not asking that he be tried criminally, we’re not asking that he be punished. We’re asking that the supreme court should take cognisance of the fact of forgery,” he said.

Onoja then referred to the deposition where the registrar of CSU, Caleb Westberg, said that one who wants to apply for a replacement certificate needed to apply to the school personally by filling a form on the website. He said, “The university says if you want to get a replacement diploma, you have to come directly to the school, go to the school’s website, fill out that form, submit the form, and then they will continue the processes. And so, when anybody brings up the issue of a third-party vendor, where is that coming from? Why are you giving us a smoke screen? It’s a smoke screen that has no bearing whatsoever on the position.”

Onoja explained that the constitution, in Section 137, clearly stated that anyone who submits a forged certificate has provided enough grounds for a disqualification, and that the Chicago state university had unequivocally stated that the certificate had not emanated from them.

He said, “The issue at hand is not whether or not President Bola Ahmed Tinubu went to CSU, even though there are substantial questions surrounding that. The issue at hand is that in submitting, on oath, form EC9 to INEC, the electoral umpire, did he submit a forged certificate? Without doubt. At this point where we stand, the answer to that question is yes. Everything else you are being told is an attempt- failed attempt, it must be emphasized- to detract from that truth. Why is this important, it is only important because our constitution says so.”

The lawyer referred to the case of Mmesoma Ejikeme saying, “Only a few months ago, Mmesoma, that young lady, passed an exam. She passed her JAMB with rather good scores. She goes ahead to forge extra scores. The country as a whole criticized her, and then we have punished her that she will not be able to get admission into a university for another 3 years.

“If you’re saying to us that it doesn’t matter, as long as he was a brilliant student, it doesn’t matter if he forged a document, then, we should gather and go and apologize to that child.”

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi