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President Buhari And The Resurrection Of Corruption In The Award Of Honorary Degrees In Nigerian Universities

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On Saturday, December 12, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari shocked the Nigeria’s academic community when he went to Kaduna State University, KASU and received an honorary doctorate degree (Honoris Causa) barely seven months after his inauguration.

 

On the surface of it, one would be tempted to ask: is the president being honoured for his records of yesteryears or is he being honoured for his performance in the last seven month? If it is for his past records, the natural question is why now and why by KASU? That university existed for over a decade, why didn’t they honour Muhammadu Buhari last year or five years ago? If the honour is as a result of his present assignment, what has he done this far to earn him a honoris causa? Isn’t it a case of moral corruption for a serving president, who has a lot of favours to dish out, accept to receive an undeserved honorary doctorate degree from a state university whose vice chancellor was, in the last six months, queried by the Visitor to the University about three times?

Is it the case that, after the KASU formula, that the president will not attend the convocation ceremony of any university unless that university include the president as one its recipients of honorary doctorate degree. How not, since over a dozen universities have held their convocation ceremonies since the coming of PMB to office and he attended none, it is therefore safe to assume that his failure to attend was because they have not honoured him with a degree. These include the University of Ibadan, University of Benin, Obafemi Awolowo University, Federal University Owerri, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, etc. And none of them received the respect of the presence of the president. Now that KASU has shown the way, any university that wants the president to attend its convocation should simply include the president in the list of the recipients of its honoris causa. They are sure to have the president coming in person to be decorated.

The question is where is the shock? The president action is shocking for three reasons. First, his receiving an honorary doctorate degree, from any Nigerian University, while holding and elected public office is immoral, illegal and a crass violation of the existing regulation guiding the award of honoris causa in Nigeria’s University System. Section 2.0 subsection (a) of the famous Keffi Declaration which was enacted on the 24th September, 2012 by the Association of Vice Chancellors of Nigerian Universities (AVCNU) stated that:

“AVCNU member-universities hereby make it a policy not to honour with honorary degree anybody holding political office (elected or appointed) while such officers are still in service.”
President Buhari violated this rule and the president is an honourable man, apology to Shakespeare in his histo-drama book, Julius Caeser.
In 2012, worried by the spate of irregularities and the erosion of academic culture and university tradition especially in the indiscriminate award of honorary degrees in the university system, the vice chancellors of Nigeria’s federal, state and private universities met at the Nasarawa State University, Keffi and resolved, collectively, that the age-long best practices of university culture be restored and maintained. It was the case that politicians, public office holders and all manner of money-bags and favour-flaunters will be conniving with governing councils, vice chancellors or visitors to state universities all in the bid to cajole or hoodwink the university into awarding an undeserving honorary degree. It was so rampant that the credibility of any honoris causa by any Nigerian university was suspect. The Nigeria’s academic community was relieved when the Keffi Declaration on “Sustaining Academic Tradition in Nigerian Universities, Including Guidelines for the Award of Honorary Degrees” was made. It was even more refreshing seeing that all the federal universities, all the state universities and all the private universities at that time have signed the declaration.

But the action of President Buhari of accepting honoris causa, in complete violation of the Keffi Declaration, has done one of the greatest damages to the university system since the enactment of the declaration in 2012. The president has just killed the Keffi Declaration and therefore open the floodgate of irregularities and moral corruption in the award of honorary degrees. Will the president refuse to accept another honoris causas from other universities? No. All the remaining 140 universities will now line up with their ceremonial academic robes ready to decorate the president with honorary degrees. It will be a moral dilemma for the president to refuse to accept after receiving one from a sister-university. And not only that, the president cannot stop his cabinet members, other public officer holders, and including civil servants from haggling-and-bargaining to ‘buy’ honorary degrees and even stand on the same podium with the president to be decorated. The era of immoral impunity in the award of honoris causa has effectively returned. And it was declared open by the action of Mr President.

Second, and even more disturbing is the fact that Kaduna State University is not competent to award honorary doctorate degree to anybody. Information available on the National Universities Commission website indicates that there are only 22 out of 40 state universities with approval to run masters and PhD programs. KASU is not one them. How can you have an honorary doctorate graduands when you don’t have the regular program with regular students pursuing doctorate studies? More so, the Keffi Declaration, section 2.0 subsection (e) stated explicitly that:

“A university shall not award honorary degrees if it has not graduated any PhD or has no postgraduate school or program”
Because the president is an honourable man, I dare say that his idea of change is about changing the rule, it will be safe to say that he received a 419 degree that is not recognised by the NUC, a government institution under his watch.

The question is how many people graduated with PhDs at the 12th December convocation when President Buhari was decorated by KASU? Have KASU ever graduate a PhD since its establishment? When did they get the approval from the NUC to commence the PhD program? How could KASU award what it does not have? Why should NUC keep mute at this illegality and gross abuse of regulation? If the information they published in their website is correct, why should they allow KASU to award illegal honorary degree even to the resident of the Federation? It is amazing how politicians are always at the forefront of rubbishing our academic traditions and values.

It is very clear that the Visitor to KASU who is the Governor of Kaduna State is at the forefront of this manipulative scheme to rubbish the university system and smear the good name of the president of the country. Or why did he dissolved the governing council of the university simply because they allegedly drew his attention to the illegality and immorality of awarding honoris causa to a serving elected public officer? And the VC who was appointed by Governor Yakowa was rattled to his nerves with an array of queries to get him to accept political interference in the running of the university. How else, given the fact that section 2.0 subsection (c) of the Keffi Declaration states, in parts, that:

“…the award of honorary degree shall not be tied to wealth consideration or political alignment…”
Who will doubt that after sacking the governing council and sufficiently intimidating the vice chancellor of the university, the APC governor as the visitor to the university, is not bullying his way into forcing the university to award illegal degrees to an APC President and a business mogul exclusively for political and material reasons?

My third reason is even more scary. Is the Minister of Education so incompetent as not to draw the attention of the President to all these violations? Why wouldn’t the minister of education draw the attention of the president to the Keffi Declaration? And to the NUC guidelines on approved universities with graduate courses? Or better still shouldn’t the honourable minister make the moral common sense argument of not accepting a gift from an institution under ones superintendence? Or is it the case that the president, who ruled the country for over three months without ministers, is still living with that hang-over and is taking decisions without consulting the relevant ministers? If the minister of education is kept in the dark on the KASU honoris causa brouhaha, then our country is in trouble. It means the president will be relying on informal and unofficial (most of the time, misleading) suggestions to run the country. If the minister is in the picture and his opinion sought by the president and he misled the president into going to accept and illegal honorary degree, then some punitive action must be meted on the minister. If on the other hand, the minister was consulted and he advised the president against accepting the illegal degree and his advice was jettisoned by the president, then something is fundamental wrong – it means there is a crisis of confidence between the president and his ministers. And the earlier that crisis is resolved the better for our country.

It is important to note that PDP, in spite of its numerous ills had adhered to the Keffi Declaration. Former president Goodluck Jonathan, to his credit – (oh God, remembering PDP and Jonathan again) withstood all the pressures and declined many of such offers.

For me, President Muhammadu Buhari can still save the Keffi Declaration, save himself from further embarrassment and save the university system in this regard by doing two things: one, cause his handlers to issue a public statement returning the illegal and undeserved honorary degree back to the awarding university and stating his commitment to respect and protect the Keffi declaration; two, investigate and punish any persons that have hands in misleading him into this embarrassing misstep. Fighting corruption is not just about stolen wealth. It is about respect for regulations. It is about staying on the moral high-grounds. Over to you “Sai Mai Gaskiya.”

Dr. Mohammed Jibo Imran
Santa Clara County
City of San Jose, CA

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More Troubles For Umo Eno As Court Rejects Stay-of-execution Request

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A Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday dismissed an application filed by Pastor Umo Eno seeking a stay-of-execution of the Order which had nullified his nomination as the PDP governorship candidate in Akwa Ibom State.

The court which nullified Eno’s nomination, ordered that he should be replaced with Rt. Hon. Michael Enyong as the authentic PDP candidate.

In throwing out the request for stay of execution, the Court ruled that Umo Eno was never a party to the case filed by Enyong, and so his request could not be entertained by the COurt. The court therefore described Umo Eno as ‘’meddlesome interloper’’ for seeking to file an application in a matter he was never a party of.

Recall that in a judgement delivered on January 20, Justice Fadima Aminu of the FHC, Abuja, had ordered the PDP to submit Enyong’s name to INEC as its candidate. In a suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1295/2022 filed in August, Enyong had submitted that he won the party’s primary held on May 25. The defendant in the case was PDP. Enyong did not join Eno as a party in his case. How clever!

This means that it is only the PDP that has the locus to file an appeal or stay of execution application against the judgement which sacked Eno. So far, the PDP’s National Legal Adviser (NLA) is not willing to participate in the matter especially since he was never carried along in all the Umo Eno legal matters. Rather, the Akwa Ibom State Chapter of the Party had always engaged Barr. Emmanuel Enoidem (the former NLA) as its legal counsel, totally sidelining the current National Legal Adviser. Recall also that the PDP National Legal Adviser had a few weeks ago issued a public statement announcing that it is only the NLA that has the authority to brief and engage lawyers holding briefs for the party. The public statement had also warned party members to desist from engaging lawyers without his knowledge.

Meantime, I understand that Enyong’s lawyers had served INEC with the Court order and his name would soon be published by the electoral umpire as PDP’s authentic governorship candidate.

My Take:

1. The chances of Umo Eno returning to his former status as the governorship candidate is very, very slim. It probably will not happen.

2. Gov. Udom Emmanuel and the PDP have yet to come to terms with the fact that Umo Eno’s name has been deleted as the candidate. They are inconsolable in anger, grief and pain. ‘’They are experiencing a great sense of separation, akin to the overwhelming feeling of loss which one experiences when he is bereaved’’, says a political analyst and business man, Elder Aniefiok Isatt.

3. This development is also the greatest setback and the most devastating blow the PDP has ever suffered in the state since 1999. This case might just be some kind of ‘’Nunc Dimittis’’ for the PDP in the State.

4. Privatively, PDP stalwarts are quick to blame the governor for the woes that has befallen the party this season. They believe that by imposing a very unpopular person as the candidate, the governor had bruised and hurt the majority of the members.

5. The question many are pondering is: Will Udom Emmanuel take to Enyong and accept him as the PDP candidate, thus conceding that Umo Eno was never God’s revelation, contrary to what he told the people; or will the governor leave Enyong to his own devices and embrace a different person?

 

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Our Client Wanted To Say ‘Pupsy’, Not Her Private Parts — Lawyer Defends Embattled Nigerian Polytechnic Female Graduate

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Barrister Ikechukwu Nwaopara, a legal practitioner representing the interest of Sharon Ogechi Okoroafor, the graduating student of the Federal Polytechnic Nekede, Owerri, Imo State, who went viral on social media for saying that she graduated with the help of God and her private parts, has said his client was misinterpreted.

The lawyer, who made the appeal to the institution’s management in a statement made available to newsmen, claimed that their client had no intention of disparaging the institution’s reputation, standards or integrity.

The statement reads: “We are solicitors to OKOROAFOR OGECHI SHARON (our client under our Pro Bono (Free Legal Services) on whose behalf we write this memo to you.

“We are aware that she will be facing the school disciplinary panel this morning, and we wish to use this medium to express our confidence that the panel will carry out their duties in compliance with the principles of Fair hearing, good conscience and natural justice, devoid of harassment, intimidation, and threats.

“We have met and discussed with our Client and evidence before us shows that she has no intention to defame the character, standard and integrity of the institution. In her words what happened in the said viral video was a slip of tongue as a result of her uncontrollable ecstasy over her graduation. Her intended words were “God and Pupsy” in appreciation of the Almighty God and her dad.

“It is clear, therefore, that she had no intention whatsoever to use such a “foul word” in the said viral video to cajole or blackmail the institution, as no lecturer or name of the institution was mentioned or referred to in the said viral video.

“Our lawyers are already on ground at the institution now to follow up the proceedings at the panel against any form of intimidation or harassment. The integrity and standard of the said institution is not in doubt especially since my senior brother, Rev Dr Arimanwa took over as the Rector. Indeed, justice is for all parties.”

We had reported that after Sharon’s video went viral on the internet, the management of the institution announced that it would investigate her action as it was capable of dragging the reputation of the school to the mud.

 

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Alleged N1.4bn Fraud: Witness Reveals How Kogi Assembly Candidate, Atumeyi Fraudulently Benefitted N681m from Union Bank Customers’ Accounts

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The first prosecution witness, PW1, Olusegun Falola, in the ongoing trial of Ismaila Yousouf Atumeyi, a Kogi State House of Assembly candidate of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP, and two others, on Monday, January 31, 2023, told Justice Tijani Ringim of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos how the sum of N681m (Six Hundred and Eighty-one Million Naira) was paid into Atumeyi’s business account.

Atumeyi is standing trial alongside Ngene Joshua Dominic and Abdulmalik Salau, a former employee of Union Bank Plc, on an 18-count charge bordering on alleged cybercrime and money laundering to the tune of N1.4bn.

Led in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo, SAN, Falola, an Internal Auditor and Team Lead, General Investigations, Union Bank Plc, told the court that “sometime in October 2022, during the periodic internal review of accounts of customers, we observed that some accounts that were placed on No-debit were debited.

“In the course of our review, it was observed that the methodology employed in debiting the said accounts was different from the way accounts are being debited in the normal banking activity.

“Based on this, the case was assigned to me for further internal investigation. During the review, I observed that beyond the few accounts that were referred to me for investigation, there were other numerous accounts that were being debited.

“Furthermore, the debits on these accounts were traced to two beneficiaries, Atus Homes Limited account and Fav Oil and Gas Limited.

“These two accounts received the sum of N681m and N1.38bn, respectively from the account of 429 customers.”

He also told the court that further investigations revealed that Atumeyi is the signatory to the Atus Homes Limited account, while the signatories to Fav Oil and Gas are Shuaibu Yusuf and Nurudeen.

According to him, all illicit debits on the customers’ accounts were done via internet banking on one of the bank’s platforms known as Union 360.

Giving further testimony, he said: “As at the time of investigation, over 600m had been withdrawn from the account of Atus Homes Limited and over N800m withdrawn from Fav Oil and Gas.

“We also realized that they were able to make those fraudulent transfers because the bank system was fraudulently manipulated.

“It was this realization that made us know that only a person with privileged information on the bank’s information technology could have carried out such illicit transactions.

“It was based on that knowledge that we reported the matter to the EFCC for further investigation.”

Oyedepo sought to tender the petition written to the EFCC, the correspondences between EFCC and the bank as well as the defendants’ statements of account that had been identified by the PW1.

However, counsel to the third defendant, Babatunde Ogunwo, objected to the admissibility of the attached statement of account on the grounds that the prosecution had not sufficiently complied with Section 84 (2) 2(4) of the Evidence Act.

“I strongly believe that the prosecution has not satisfied the provisions of Section 84 (2) 2(4) of the Evidence Act. All I heard the witness say is questions put to him by the prosecution.

“However Section 84(2) of the Evidence Act gives conditions more than what the witness has stated.

“There are four legs as stated by the Evidence Act and the witness has only answered one. These conditions have to be complied with.

“I humbly submit that the prosecution has not complied with the conditions stated for the admissibility of the statements of account”, Ogunwo argued.

Responding, Oyedepo said that the argument of the defence counsel was misconceived and also missed its target.

He, therefore, urged the court to discountenance the objection of the defence.

He also submitted that the certificate of identification as enshrined in the Section of the Evidence Act “is not a ritual that must be performed in achieving admissibility of computer-generated evidences.”

He further argued that “where the issue is as to the failure to comply with procedural steps towards admissibility, the order the court will make is not to reject the document, but to urge the tendering party to regularize.

“This document is relevant in the determination of this matter and I urge my Lord to so hold.”

In a short ruling, Justice Ringim overruled the objection of the defence and admitted the evidence in exhibit.

Justice Ringim also granted the second defendant, Dominic, bail on the same terms of the 3rd defendant, as granted on January 6, 2023.

The matter was adjourned to February 2, 2023 for continuation of trial.

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