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Oshoma: To Prevent Loopholes, Investigation Should Be Carried Out on CSU Third-Party Agents Before Making Case For Forgery

He said that one needs to read the law wholistically before concluding on a matter.

Nigerian Lawyer, Liborous Oshoma, has said, in the case of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s alleged forgery of his certificate from Chicago State University (CSU), that a proper investigation must be carried out into the possibility of third-party agents of CSU so that one can remove any loopholes.

Oshoma made this statement in an interview with ARISE NEWS on Friday, as he discussed the legal aspects of the recent revelation which had caused many to allege that President Tinubu had forged his certificate, as the registrar of CSU, Caleb Westberg, had said that the certificate that Tinubu submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) did not originate from the institution.

While Oshoma said that he did not want to be dragged into the “comic fight” between the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All-Progressive’s Congress (APC), saying that as far as he was concerned, the ongoing issue is an “entertainment,” he referred to Section 137 of the constitution which said a person cannot be qualified for presidency of the country if said person presents a forged certificate to INEC while also referring to section 29 of the Electoral Act.

However, Oshoma said, “These politicians know what they’re doing. These laws – the constitution, the electoral act – they made it. And so, when they give with one hand, they take with another. And so, that’s why we say you read the laws wholistically.”

The lawyer emphasized that there is need for further investigations to be conducted in order to prove that there was actually an act of forgery committed, saying, “The deposition, from what I read, that was issued from a third-party vendor. Do you know why police in Nigeria don’t win cases, hardly win cases? Because they leave loopholes. 

“The next question should now be, that the parties should be asking himself is, who are third-party vendors?

“There’s been arguments back and forth, for and against, that third party vendors are legally authorised to issue certificates, diplomas, replaced diplomas in some schools in America. The question you should be asking yourself is, who are these third-party vendors, and that’s where investigation must come in. These third-party vendors, are they authorised to issue replacement diplomas in CSU? Some have said no, some have said yes, but it now depends on investigation to establish all of that, so that at the end of the day, we don’t just blow hot air, and only for you to get to court and say, oh, the court has disappointed us. The court will deal with facts.

“In criminal law, there must be a watertight investigation, so that when you are confronted with the proof of evidence, you have nothing else but to admit that, yes, this is it. But do you know what we do here, we leave some evidence hanging. And yet, you have to prove beyond reasonable doubt, because the law says that if you have ever presented a forged certificate, and then, the law further goes further to say who can challenge that forged certificate. 

“In the old law, section 30, anybody can challenge, and it was on that old act that the case of Adah was decided on… but in this new law, section 29 limits who can challenge. So, you need to look at all of these things wholistically so that at the end of the day, like we say in law, so you don’t create a loophole.”

Oshoma then revealed that although CSU stated that for one to get a replacement certificate, one must personally apply to the institution via their website, the website also showed the existence of a third party that issues a certain certificate, saying, “If you get to that site that you’re referring to, it talks about clearance certificate from associated students…  which shows that truly indeed, that there is a third party involved.”

He said, “If you leave that part hanging, and at the end of the day, even under prosecution, and the man comes and says third-party vendors are permitted to issue this certificate, the first step should be what was submitted, all of those documents need to be there so that we look at the law wholistically so that we don’t just hang on to one part.”

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi