Since 2010, the integrity of the highest level of political leadership in Benue State has been challenged in the media, in the public, in the courts and before election Tribunals for reasons of certificate forgery. Previously; allegations of Certificate Forgery were made against the person of the Executive Governor of Benue State; Rt. Hon. Dr. Gabriel Torwua Suswam; first by one Chidozie Ukpabi in the September 2010 edition of the Power Steering Magazine; where he alleged that the WAEC Certificate of Governor Suswam were forged. They were followed by series of litigations by Hon. Terver Kakih; a Gubernatorial Aspirant on the platform of the PDP. These allegations were further taken to the election Tribunals by Senator Daniel Saror of the ANPP and Prof Steve Torkuma Ugbah of the ACN up to the apex court of the land and the controversy is still raging in the courts.
On Saturday, February 16, 2013, Thisday Newspaper carried the story that I, Sen. George Akume, a retired Permanent Secretary in the Benue State Civil Service, a two term former Governor of Benue State and a second term Senator representing the Benue North-West Senatorial District and Minority Leader of the Senate was dragged to court by one Phillip Agbese; a claimed civil rights activist alleging that I had forged my West African School Certificate and that I was not a graduate of the University of Ibadan or any recognized University in Nigeria and did not partake in the mandatory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
These jaundiced allegations are weighty and capable of casting the intelligent Benue people as forgers and fraudsters, just as they are indeed capable of casting aspersions on the integrity of all the good people of Benue who will lose confidence of the public, in their credentials and certificates, no matter how brilliant their performances would attest.
In the case of Governor Suswam, all sorts of legal technicalities have been used to make impossible the trial of the cases and the Governor too has not at any moment, decided to clear the doubt by making public his certificates that qualified him to have contested elections.
As a political leader, I believe we owe a responsibility to the public to prove that Benue is not about forgers and forgeries. We need to inspire our youth by instilling them with confidence by making public our documents so that they could walk about with their heads high and not think that in Benue you could make it to the top even if you do not have integrity.
Our nation and indeed our democracy is going through very trying times. Those of us who are leaders of this democracy must play by the rules to inculcate a culture of respect, integrity and discipline in the polity.
It is against this backdrop that I have chosen to respond immediately to this allegation of Phillip Agbese by stating as follows:
.I attended Government Secondary School, Otukpo from 1967 to 1971 and sat for the West African School Certificate Examinations in 1971 and was issued a Certificate number SC039633 with the following grades:
English Language – 3
French – 4
English Literature – 3
History – 6
Geography – 3
Health Science – 3
.I proceeded to the University of Ibadan having completed my preliminary studies at the Jos Campus and obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology with Second Class Honours (Lower Division) in 1978. While at Ibadan, my hall of residence was Tedder Hall.
.I did my National Youth Service in Plateau State and had my primary assignment at Advanced Teachers College, ATC Akwanga and was discharged on August 6, 1979.
.I again went back to the University of Ibadan in the Faculty of Social Sciences for a Master of Industrial and Labour Relations and was awarded the Masters degree Certificate in 1987. It is on record that in 2004, I delivered the distinguished Alumni Lecture of the University of Ibadan titled “Political Skepticism as an Impediment to the Sustenance of Nigerian Democracy: The View of a Sociologist in Politics”.
On 20/12/2002, I discovered that the originals of my WASC, B.Sc and NYSC discharge certificates were lost and accordingly reported to the Police on 23/12/2002. Consequently, on the advice of the Police, I swore to an affidavit in the High Court of Justice of Benue State of Nigeria 23/9/2010. I make these facts and documents public and declare them incontrovertible.
I have directed my team of lawyers to check with the Federal High Court Abuja where the case is purportedly filed for the court summons. While I am waiting to be served, I have chosen the path of honour as a public officer to make my academic records public.
I call on the general public to take advantage of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and request for verification and confirmation of these facts from the various institutions concerned.
Finally, I challenge all public officers who are accused of certificate forgery to publicly tender their documents in order to win the confidence of the public so as to preserve the integrity of our democracy.
Senator George Opel Igbe Akume
Senate Minority Leader.No tags for this post.