THE Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC) has urged the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, to investigate allegations of certificate forgery against the president of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Christopher Isiguzo.
In a petition forwarded to the IGP and signed by CSNAC’s chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, the Network said the requested action on Isiguzo, who was a two-term vice-president of the same union, is pertinent to serve as deterrent to future law breakers, especially amongst the elite and politically exposed persons.
According to CSNAC, its request is based on a petition to the NUJ Credentials Committee details of which was published on the 2nd October, 2018 by the International Centre for Investigative Reporting on its website.
The Network said the petition alleges that Mr. Isiguzo who was one of the seven presidential hopefuls of the NUJ, forged at least two of his certificates. It was also alleged that Mr. Isiguzo’s qualifications and eligibility for national office are being presently contested before a National Industrial Court in Enugu.
“Though, the committee claimed it found no substance in the allegations and cleared the candidacy of Mr. Isiguzo, Mr. Isiguzo himself disowned the published certificates as attributed to him and also were among those he submitted to ThisDay newspaper, where he is presently the South East Bureau Chief.
“The contested certificates includes a HND from Federal Polytechnic, Oko, issued in 1998 and a diploma in Public Administration from Hyles-Anderson College obtained in the same year.
“The certificates have irregularities pointing to the fact that they are forged, one of which is the fact that it is impossible to get two diplomas and a HND in August, November and December of the same year. Also, the Hyles-Anderson College certificate in his name is obviously forged as the school is a bible college and does not offer a course in Public Administration which Mr. Isiguzo claimed to have studied.”
The.petitIon said in addition to the above, the certificate claims to have been signed by the Rector and a Registrar, but none of the said designation exists in the institution’s management, rather the offices operated by the college include Chancellor, President, Academic Dean and Director of Admissions.
“According to The ICIR, the management of Hyles-Anderson college has confirmed that indeed the diploma in public administration is not authentic, as John Wilkerson, Pastor and Chancellor of the college, replying to an emailed enquiry, responded that while the document contains the institution’s name, address, and crest, it was not issued by them.
He said: “Neither do the names upon it represent any officiants or graduates of our college,” he added. “We do not issue degrees in public administration and we do not utilise the term, ‘rector.’ Thank you.”
“As regards the HND certificate, which supposedly originates from the Federal Polytechnic Oko, it is also suspect as when it was compared with another notification of result from the institution issued in 2002 for a 1999 graduate there are clear contradictions in the font, style, heading, recipient address underline, and page border thickness.”
The Network noted further that the most striking contrast, however, is in the stamps used.
“In the latter document we find that the words “Federal Polytechnic Oko, Anambra state…” are written in a cursive font, and the stamp has no border lines. But in Isiguzo’s certificate, not only are there two border lines, the font is different and in upper case and the stamp belongs to another university entirely: Anambra State Polytechnic, located in the same state as Federal Polytechnic, Oko.
“The ICIR also reported that sources at This Day informed them that the paper has issued Mr. Isiguzo a query and is expecting a response, following the forgery allegations against him. It was also gathered, however, that no independent investigation has yet been conducted to confirm the merits of those allegations.”
CSNAC noted that, “It is on the basis of the above facts that we as a concerned Civil Society Organisation bothered about the high incidents of certificate forgery in the leadership sector of society, hereby request that the police use the instrumentality of their good offices to conduct an urgent and robust investigation into the said allegations of certificate forgery and prosecute the suspect where found wanting.
“The requested action is pertinent to serve as deterrent to future law breakers, especially amongst the elite and politically exposed persons.
“This is with a view to stemming the menace from rapidly gaining grounds in society. If the media, especially at the leadership of its union, is enmeshed in credibility crisis, how does it discharge its constitutional role of watchdog of the society or even hold public office holders accountable with a leadership accused of unresolved forgery? This ultimately will compromise the integrity of the association and expose members of the union to the threat of a compromising leadership,” the petition read.