Army Recants, Says It Does Not Have Buhari’s Certificate, APC Reacts

By Adedayo Ogunleye, Abuja

 In a surprising turn of events, the Nigerian Army has shifted its earlier position on the whereabouts of the school certificates of the All Progressives Congress, APC, presidential candidate, Muhammadu Buhari,  denying being in possession of both the photocopies and the originals of the controversial document.

The debate over the existence of Buhari’s school certificate began on December 30, 2014, when it was revealed that the APC presidential candidate, who retired from the army after attaining the rank of Major-General, had tendered a sworn affidavit claiming that the military board was in possession of his certificates.

Reacting to the claim, the army, through its director of public relations, Olajide Olaleye a Brigadier General, declared that it was only in possession of photocopies of Buhari‘s secondary school leaving certificates, not the original.

“Contrary to insinuations, the Army does not have in its possession the originals but only the copies of all its officers whether serving, retired, or deceased, including those of Major General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd)”, the army spokesman stated.

“The Military Secretary is the custodian of the military records of all officers serving, retired, or deceased. Therefore original credentials are with the officer while copies are with the MS. Gaining access to one’s credentials in the MS is possible within 24 hours,” he said, explaining further

However, at a press conference on Tuesday,  Olaleye shifted the army’s earlier position, stating that media hype that arose over the whereabouts of Buhari’s academic certificates and the numerous requests tendered by individuals and corporate bodies to the army necessitated that the facts be clarified.

While expressing utmost respects for the person of the retired General and affirming that the army would not be party to any controversy over his eligibility for political office, Olaleye stated, however, that the records indicate that the APC presidential candidate had applied to join the military as a Form Six student of the Provincial Secondary School, Katsina in 1961.

“His application was duly endorsed by the school principal who also wrote a report recommending him as suitable for military commission.”

Olaleye said further that the practice in the Nigerian Army was that “before candidates are shortlisted for commissioning into the officers’ cadre of the Service, the Selection Board verifies the original copies of credentials that have been tendered” but added that “there is no available record to show that this process was followed in the 1960s.”

“Nevertheless, the entry made of the NA Form 199A at the point of documentation after commission as an officer indicated that the former Head of State obtained the West African School Certificate, WASC, in 1961 with credits in relevant subjects: English Language, Geography, History, Health Science, Hausa, and a pass in English Literature. Neither the original copy, Certified True Copy, CTC, nor the statement of result of Major General Muhammadu Buhari WASC result is in his personal file,” the brigadier General explained.

He expressed the hope that the army’s latest position ‘will put to rest the raging controversy surrounding the secondary school credentials of Major General Muhammadu Buhari as it affects the Nigerian Army.”

However, in a swift reaction, the APC has alleged that the military had been compromised and is being used “to satisfy selfish political objectives”, pointing out that its new position contradicts what it had told the world earlier.

In a statement issued on Tuesday by its national publicity secretary, Lai Mohammed, the APC warned that the people it alleged are bent on destroying its presidential candidate through the certificate controversy may “end up destroying the country’s military.”

The party recalled that Olaleye had told a newspaper on January 4 that it was in possession of the photocopies of the retired General’s certificate.

”Is Brig.-Gen. Olaleye now saying that he did not make that statement? If he did, what has happened between then and now to make him to recant?” the party wondered.

It pointed out that the import of the army’s latest position is that “there was no evidence that the certificates of all those who joined the army in the early 1960s were verified by the selection board.”

”Is he now saying that all those who were commissioned into the officer cadres in the 1960s did not have their certificates verified? Does this not confirm what we said that in trying to destroy Gen. Buhari, the PDP and the Jonathan Administration will end up destroying the army as an institution? Or is it only Gen. Buhari that was commissioned into the army in the 1960s,” it queried.

”We believe things have not reached a level where we, as a nation, will now be giving the impression that a man who rose to become a Major-General in the Nigerian Army does not have requisite qualifications?” the party stated.

The APC maintained that Buhari is still qualified to run for the office of president in spite of the army’s new position as he is permitted by the Constitution.

”A person shall be qualified for election to the office of President if he has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent,” the party stated, quoting Section 131 (d) of the Constitution:






     

     

    The APC pointed out that Section 318, Part IV defines the requirement for contesting for office of president as:

    (a) A Secondary School Certificate or its equivalent, Grade II Teacher’s Certificate, the City and Guilds Certificate; or

    (b) Education up to Secondary School Certificate Level; or

    (c) Primary Six School Leaving Certificate or its equivalent.

     

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