June 13, 2024

In 2019, a tweet by Mr. Keyamo, the Federal Minister of Aviation in President Bola Tinubu’s administration, surfaced, in which he asserted that individuals who submitted forged certificates to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) would face legal disqualification from elected offices, as per the 1999 Nigerian constitution. Mr. Keyamo, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), emphasized that while one didn’t necessarily need a West African Examination Council (WAEC) certificate to become president or governor, presenting a forged certificate to INEC for any political office would result in disqualification.

However, fast forward four years, and this tweet would come back to haunt the very administration it was meant to support. Chicago State University (CSU), based in the United States, confirmed in a deposition that the certificate or diploma Mr. Tinubu had submitted to INEC prior to the presidential election was not authentic, marking a clear case of forgery. The revelation put President Tinubu in a precarious position, as it could potentially lead to his removal from office, a penalty that Mr. Keyamo, ironically, had openly endorsed.

While CSU verified that Mr. Tinubu did indeed graduate from the university, it also confirmed that he had committed forgery by submitting a counterfeit diploma to INEC. This revelation became a focal point of contention when the People’s Democratic Party’s candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and the Labour Party’s Peter Obi headed to the Supreme Court to appeal the presidential election tribunal’s ruling, which had affirmed Mr. Tinubu’s and the All Progressives Congress’s victory in the February 25 election.

The Nigerian Constitution, specifically in Section 137 (1)(j), amended in 2010, explicitly states that no one can be legitimately elected as the president of Nigeria if they have presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission. This legal provision now looms large over President Tinubu’s political career and the credibility of the government, making it a critical issue of concern for the nation’s political landscape.

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