Saturday, January 24, 2015

General M.Buhari’s School Certificate: To Be Or Not To Be?

This was written by Mr. Adolphus Nwachukwu.

In the past few weeks the issue that has wrongly been in the front burner is whether General M. Buhari is qualified or eligible to contest the Presidential Election of 14/2/2015 having regard to the provisions of sections 131 and 318(1)(a)-(d) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).

In other words, is it a mandatory constitutional requirement for General Buhari to produce his school certificate or Its Equivalent to the Independent National Electoral Commission (‘INEC’) before he will be eligible to contest the 14/2/20015 Presidential election? Does the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) (hereafter ‘the 1999 Constitution’) stipulate that a Presidential candidate or aspirant like General Buhari must produce his/her school certificate or its equivalent before he will be eligible to contest a Presidential election?


Is “school certificate” the minimum requirement for a Presidential candidate to be eligible to contest a Presidential election in Nigeria? Can INEC allow a Presidential Candidate to contest a Presidential Election even though the candidate has a qualification below “school certificate level”? Does the fact that General Buhari attended Provincial Secondary School, Katsina, Katsina State, enough to make him eligible to contest the Presidential election of 14/2/2015? Could General M. Buhari have attended provincial Secondary School, Katsina, Katsina State, without attending primary school? These questions will be resolved in the course of a critical analysis of the law and the facts surrounding this certificate saga.

AVAILABLE FACTS

From the facts available, General Buhari confirmed that he attended Provincial Secondary School, Katsina. He also graduated in 1961 with many prominent Nigerians, including Late General Shehu Yar’adua, former Chief of staff at the Supreme Headquarters, and Justice Umaru Abdullahi, a former President of the Court of Appeal. He also confirmed that he sat for the University of Cambridge/West African School Certificate in 1961 along with General Shehu Yar’adua, and Justice Umaru Abdullahi, in 1961, where his examination number was 8280002, and passed the examination in the Second Division. He, however, noted that his result or certificate is with the Nigerian Army.

On 20/1/2015, the Nigerian Army, through its Director of Army Public Relations, Brigadier General Olajide Laleye, issued a statement in order to clear the air on General Buhari’s certificate saga. In his press statement the General said:

“… Let me state clearly that the Nigerian Army holds the retired senior officer in very high esteem and respect and would not be a party to any controversy surrounding his eligibility for any political office. Suffice to state that Major General Buhari rose steadily to the enviable rank of Major General before becoming the Head of State of our dear country in December 1983.

The media hype on retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari’s credentials as well as the numerous requests made by individuals and corporate bodies to the Nigerian Army on this issue have necessitated that we provide the facts as contained in the retired senior officer’s service record. Records available indicate that Major General M Buhari applied to join the military as a Form Six student of the Provincial Secondary School, Katsina, on 18 Oct 61.

His application was duly endorsed by the Principal of the school, who also wrote a report on him and recommended him to be suitable for military commission. It is a practice in the NA that before candidates are shortlisted for commissioning into the officers’s cadre of the Service, the Selection Board verifies the original copies of credentials that are presented.

However, there is no available record to show that this process was followed in the 1960s. Nevertheless, the entry made on 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 statement of result of Major General M Buhari's WASC result is in his personal file. See, Sahara Reporters January, 20th 2015; Premium Times, 21st January, 2015 and Letter from the Nigerian Army, Department of Military Secretary, Mambilla Barracks, Asokoro, Abuja with Reference No: AHQ MS/GI/300/249 signed by Major General I.I. Abbah for and on behalf of the Chief of Army Staff and addressed to Office of General Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, No. 34 Lobito Crescent, Off Adetokumbo Ademola Crescent, Wuse II, Abuja.

ANALYSIS OF AVAILABLE FACTS

From the information made available by the Nigerian Army from its record, General Buhari was a former student of Provincial Secondary School, Katsina and had a Principal who wrote a report on him and recommended him to be suitable for military commission. It is arguable that General Buhari could not have attended Provincial Secondary School, Katsina without first finishing his Primary School education and obtaining the relevant Primary School Leaving Certificate. It is also plausible that General Buhari’s Principal in Provincial Secondary School, Katsina, could not have recommended him to the Nigerian Army if he did not attend Provincial Secondary School, Katsina.

Again the Nigerian Army has a practice of its Selection Board verifying the original copies of the officers’ cadre certificate but there was available record to show that this process was followed in the 1960s. If I understand Brigadier General Olajide Laleye clearly, what he was conveying is that there is no record with the Nigerian Army to show whether General Buhari’s credentials were verified or not verified by the Selection Board because there was available record to show that this process was followed in the 1960s but the Nigerian Military has the practice of verifying Offers’ cadre’s credentials. On this note it is also arguable that General Buhari could not have joined the Nigerian Army without the Selection Board verifying the original copies of his credentials if the process was followed in the 1960s.

The only predicament of the Nigerian Army is that there is no available or accessible record to confirm or deny that this process was carried out in the 1960s. However, the entry made on the Nigerian Army Form 199A at the point of documentation after commissioning General Buhari as an officer indicated that General Buhari 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. It is submitted that the above information confirmed that although there is no available record to show that this process was followed in the 1960s, Form 199A of the Nigerian Army lays credence that General Buhari obtained the West African School Certificate (WASC) in 1961 with credits in English Language, Geography, History, Health Science, Hausa and a pass in English Literature.

This is because if these credentials were not available to be verified by the Nigerian Army’s Selection Board in the 1960s or through other means that may be obtainable at that time it could not have been available in Nigerian Army Form 199A at the point of documentation after commissioning of General Buhari. Again, Form 199A of the Nigerian Army could not have been filled with General Buhari’s Statement of West African School Certificate (WASC) Result without the Nigerian Army’s Selection Board or any other department seeing and verifying same. Besides, Form 199A of the Nigerian Army could only have been filled after General Buhari or his Provincial Secondary School, Katsina, supplied his statement of result to the Nigerian Army. From another angle Form 199A could not have been filled without seeing General Buhari’s Statement of Result.

The only constraint of the Nigerian Army which is understandable is that there is no available record to show that this process was followed in the 1960s in respect of General Buhari’s West African School Certificate (WASC) Result and that there is no evidence that its Selection Board verified same. However, the Nigerian Army which is a strong, viable, responsible and responsive ‘pride’ of the Nigerian State has confirmed that its Form 199A shows that General Buhari has West African School Certificate (WASC) Result evidencing the subjects he passed.

In sum, the fact that General Buhari attended Secondary School is not in doubt but what cannot be confirmed is his original, certified true copy or statement of result of the said West African School Certificate (WASC). However, the front page of Punch Newspapers of 22/1/2015 has confirmed through a Statement of Result that General Buhari attended Provincial Secondary School, Katsina. However, whether a Statement of Result can be a substitute for a lost certificate will also be discussed. In essence both General Buhari, the Nigerian Army and Provincial Secondary School, Katsina are saying the same thing to the effect that General Buhari is a graduate of Provincial Secondary School, Katsina.

THE POSITION OF THE LAW

WHAT IS THE REQUIRED QUALIFICATION TO CONTEST ELECTION AS PRESIDENT OR FOR ELECTION AS PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA?

The required qualification to contest election as President or for election as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is as circumscribed in section 131 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
Section 131 of the 1999 Constitution provides that:

“A person shall be qualified for election to the office of the President if-

(a) he is a citizen of Nigeria by birth;

(b) he has attained the age of forty years;

(c) he is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party; and

(d) he has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.”

The above subsection (d) is also impari materia or of the same kind with Section 65(2)(a), 106(c) and 177(d) of the 1999 Constitution as regards the required qualification to contest election as a member of the Senate and House of Representatives respectively, as a member of the House of Assembly of the State and as a Governor of the State. See the Judgment of the Court of Appeal in the case of HAASTRUP ADEWALE OLATUNJI V. GBEDE ADEREMI WAHEED & 4 Others reported in [2012] 7 Nigerian Weekly Law Report (Part 1298) Page 24 at 45.

WHAT AMOUNTS TO “EQUIVALENT OF SCHOOL CERTIFICATE LEVEL” OR MEANING OF “SCHOOL CERTIFICATE OR ITS EQUIVALENT?”

Again section 318(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which is interpreted section 131 (d) defined what is school certificate or its equivalent when it stated that “school certificate or its equivalent” means-

(a) A Secondary School Certificate or its equivalent or 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; and

(i) service in the public or private sector in the Federation in any capacity acceptable to the Independent National Electoral Commission for a minimum of ten years, and

(ii) attendance at courses and training in such institutions as may be acceptable to the Independent National Electoral Commission for periods totalling up to a minimum of one year, and

(iii) the ability to read, write, understand and communicate in the English language to the satisfaction of the Independent National Electoral Commission; and

(d) Any other qualification acceptable by the Independent National Electoral Commission”.

It is this writer’s humble opinion that pursuant to the provisions of section 318(1), to possess “school certificate or its equivalent” within the meaning of section 131(d) of the 1999 Constitution, the Presidential candidate must have fulfilled any of the four requirements stated in section 318(1)(a-d), to wit:

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

(b) Education up to Secondary School Certificate Level.

(c) Primary Six School Leaving Certificate or its equivalent; and (i) service in the public or private sector in the Federation in any capacity acceptable to the Independent National Electoral
Commission for a minimum of ten years, and (ii) attendance at courses and training in such institutions as may be acceptable to the Independent National Electoral Commission for periods totalling up to a minimum of one year, and (iii) the ability to read, write, understand and communicate in the English language to the satisfaction of the Independent National Electoral Commission.

(d) Any other qualification acceptable by the Independent National Electoral Commission.
See, Imam v. Sheriff (2005) 4 Nigerian Weekly Law Report (Part 914) 80 at 196- 197.

A critical appraisal of sections 131 and 318(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) will show that a person wishing to contest (ie, before accepted by INEC) or contesting (after accepted by INEC) for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria must have been educated up to at “least School Certificate level or its equivalent.” The word ‘at least School Certificate level’ is critical as will be seen later in this article. Also the same constitution in trying to interpret what is “school certificate or its equivalent” listed four options to wit: (a) A Secondary School Certificate or its equivalent or Grade II Teacher’s Certificate, the City and Guilds Certificate; (b) Education up to Secondary School Certificate Level; (c) Primary Six School Leaving Certificate or its equivalent; and (i) service in the public or private sector in the Federation in any capacity acceptable to the Independent National Electoral Commission for a minimum of ten years, and (ii) attendance at courses and training in such institutions as may be acceptable to the Independent National Electoral Commission for periods totalling up to a minimum of one year, and (iii) the ability to read, write, understand and communicate in the English language to the satisfaction of the Independent National Electoral Commission; (d) Any other qualification acceptable by the Independent National Electoral Commission.

It should be borne in mind that section 318(1)(a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) referred to a “Secondary School Certificate and Education up to Secondary School Certificate Level.” It is this writer’s opinion that there is a difference between “Secondary School Certificate” and “Education up to Secondary School Certificate Level.” This is because if there is no difference the Legislature or National Assembly who are deemed in law to have enacted the 1999 Constitution (as amended) would not have used the two phrases in section 318(1)(a) and (b) of the Constitution. Second, it is a cardinal principle of interpretation of statues and the Constitution that the maker of any law/Legislature, be it constitutional or otherwise, does not use any word in vain, nor does he indulge in tautology or in surplusage in the use of words. See, Tukur v. Government of Gongola State (1989) 4 Nigerian Weekly Law Report (Partt.117) page 517 at page 579 per Honourable Justice Nnaemeka-Agu (of blessed memory). Again, what is “Education up to Secondary School Certificate Level” was not interpreted by the Constitution and therefore will be left within the province of the Judiciary to interpret this aspect of the law in order to discover the intention of the Legislature or National Assembly in using that phrase.

Furthermore, the use of the phrase ‘at least School Certificate level’ in section 131(d) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is ambiguous because it did not indicate which ‘school certificate level’ the Constitution was referring to. However, section 318(1) expounded section 131(d) by stating that “at least School Certificate Level” includes either “Secondary School Certificate or Primary School Leaving Certificate.” Therefore, a person who is not educated up to ‘at least School Certificate level or its equivalent’ may still qualify for election into the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria if he has a primary six school leaving certificate in addition to evidence of fulfilling the conditions in section 318(1)(c)(i-iii). See, Bayo v. Njidda [2004] 8 Nigerian Weekly Law Report (Part 876) 544 at 619, paragraph H. Also section 318(1)(a) and (b) went further to differentiate a “Secondary School Certificate or its equivalent or Grade II Teacher’s Certificate, the City and Guilds Certificate” on the one hand and “Education up to Secondary School Certificate Level” on the other hand. See, Bayo v. Njidda [2004] 8 Nigerian Weekly Law Report (Part 876) 544. In this context, it can be argued without equivocation that “Secondary School Certificate or its equivalent or Grade II Teacher’s Certificate, the City and Guilds Certificate” means attending any secondary school and obtaining the relevant or requisite certificate.

However, while the lawyer in me will argue that “education up to Secondary School Certificate Level” is the opposite of “Secondary School Certificate or its equivalent or Grade II Teacher’s Certificate, the City and Guilds Certificate” and therefore means attending Secondary School without necessarily obtaining certificate, it will be more apposite to allow the Judiciary or our Courts to interpret this aspect of the law. This is because in Bayo v. Njidda [2004] 8 Nigerian Weekly Law Report (Part 876) 544 at 630, paragraphs A-D, the Court of Appeal made it crystal clear that the none use of the word “or its equivalent” in section 318(1)(b) of the Constitution means that the candidate does not have to pass the secondary school certificate examination. It is enough that the candidate attended secondary school and read up to the secondary school certificate level ie, without passing and obtaining the certificate.

Likewise, it is also interesting that while section 131(a) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) stated “School Certificate level or its equivalent” as the minimum qualification to contest for an election into the office of the President, section 318(1) stated its meaning. See, Imam v. Sheriff (2005) 4 Nigerian Weekly Law Report (Part 914) 80 at 197 paragraphs C-H. However, sections 318(1)(a),(b) and (c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) provided the distinction between “Secondary School Certificate or its equivalent”, “Education up to Secondary School Certificate Level” and “Primary Six School Leaving Certificate or its equivalent.” That notwithstanding, it must be noted from section 318(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) that while there is no other condition attached to obtaining “Secondary School Certificate or its equivalent” and “Education up to Secondary School Certificate Level” there were three other conditions attached to having “Primary Six School Leaving Certificate or its equivalent.” In this writer’s opinion, these distinctions demonstrates the differences between “Secondary School Certificate;” “Education up to Secondary School Certificate Level” and “Primary Six School Leaving Certificate or its equivalent” as used in section 318(a), (b) and (c) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) even though each of them constitute the constitutional minimum educational requirement for contesting for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Besides, possessing a “Primary Six School Leaving Certificate or its equivalent” as stated in section 318(1)(c) is not enough because the candidate must have served in the public or private sector in the Federation in any capacity acceptable to the Independent National Electoral Commission for a minimum of ten years; attended courses and training in such institutions as may be acceptable to the Independent National Electoral Commission for periods totalling up to a minimum of one year, and the ability to read, write, understand and communicate in the English language to the satisfaction of the Independent National Electoral Commission. In respect of Section 318(1)(c)(ii) it must be observed that there is a difference between ‘attending a course’ and “attending a training’ meaning that there are two conditions stipulated in that sub-sub-section. From the above analogy, it is imperative that an intending Presidential contestant or candidate that had only Primary Six School Leaving Certificate or its equivalent must in addition present evidence of working in the public or private sector of the Federation for ten years, attendance of courses and training in that sector and demonstrate the ability to read, write, understand and communicate in the English language to be acceptable and to the satisfaction of INEC. It should also be noted that in these three extra conditions (in addition to Primary Six School Leaving Certificate), INEC has a significant role to play in terms of accepting the candidate’s service in the private or public sector and attendance of courses and training on the one hand and satisfaction that the Presidential aspirant has the ability to read, write, understand and communicate in the English language on the other hand.

Be that as it may, it must be stressed that although the words ‘acceptable’ and ‘satisfaction’ as used in section 318 (c)(i)(ii) and(iii) of the Constitution are predicated or subject to the discretion of INEC, such discretion must be exercised judicially and judiciously subject to the facts and circumstances of each case. See, Long-John v. Blakk (1998) 6 Nigerian Weekly Law Report (Part. 555) page 524 at page 542, paragraph D (S.C.); Eronini v. Iheuko (1989) 2 Nigerian Weekly Law Report [Part101] page 46; Sections 6 (6) (a) and 36(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended); Ntukidem v. Oko [1986] 5 Nigerian Weekly Law Report (Part 45) page 909 at page 918-919, paragraphs H-A (S.C.); Saffiedddline v. C.P. (1965) 1 ALL Nigeria Law Report page 54 at page 56 (S.C.); Ugboma v. Olise (1971) 1 ALL Nigeria Law Report page 8. Therefore, INEC must base its discretion on facts presented by the Presidential aspirant or candidate and be guided by the Constitution and the equitable principle of what is just and proper under the circumstances. See, Sumonu Oladejo & Anor. v. Bakare Adeyemi & Ors. (2000) 3 Nigerian Weekly Law Report (Part 647) Page 25 at Page 41, paragraphs F-G. However, if the Presidential aspirant/candidate or the proposed Presidential aspirant/candidate is of the firm view that INEC did not exercise its discretion judicially and judiciously (since it will be assuming and exercising quasi-judicial powers in interpreting section 318(1)(c) of the 1999 Constitution) but rather that its exercise of discretion was manifestly wrong, arbitrary, reckless, injudicious or contrary to justice, he/she can approach the Judiciary through the court to interpret INEC’s implementation or interpretation of section 318(1)(c) of the Constitution. See, Imonikhe v. A-G, Bendel State [1992] 6 Nigerian Weekly Law Report (Part 248) Page 396 at Page 408, paragraphs D-E (S.C.); University of Lagos v. Olaniyan & 2 Ors. (1985) 1 Nigerian Weekly Law Report (Part 1) 156; University of Lagos v. Aigoro (1985) 1 Nigerian Weekly Law Report (Part1) 143; John Akujobi Nwabueze v. Obioma Nwosu (1988) 4 Nigerian Weekly Law Report (Part 88) 257 at 160. This is because it is not the law that the decision of INEC as to qualification of a candidate to contest an election is conclusive and cannot be questioned in a Court of law. See, Imam v. Sheriff (2005) 4 Nigerian Weekly Law Report (Part 914) 80 at 168, paragraph G. However, the proper time to challenge the question of qualification of a candidate to contest an election is after the election. See, Chief Falae v. General Obasanjo & 59 Others [1999] 4 Nigerian Weekly Law Report 476 at 515(C.A.), Per Honourable Justice Edozie (as he then was later Justice of the Supreme Court); Tsoho & Anor. v. Yahaya & 5 Ors. (1999) 4 NWLR (Part 600) 657 at 622, 671, 673 (C.A.); Peters v. David & 3 Others (1999) 5 NWLR (Part 603) 486 at 495-496 (C.A.); Alhaji Balewa v. Alhaji Muazu & 4 Ors. (1999) 5 NWLR (Part 604) 636 at 644-645 (C.A.) and Abdullahi v. Alhaji Hashidu (1999) 4 NWLR (Part 600) 638 at 644 and 648 (C.A.)

More importantly, section 318(1)(d) of the 1999 Constitution gave INEC wide powers when it provided thus: “Any other qualification acceptable by the Independent National Electoral Commission.” The question is what is “Any other qualification acceptable by the Independent National Electoral Commission”? Must such qualification be equivalent or below “Primary Six School Leaving Certificate or its equivalent.” This may be a wrong interpretation because section 318(1)(c) has already used the phrase “Primary Six School Leaving Certificate or its equivalent” and it will amount to a repetition to use the same word or phrase in section 318(1)(d). It may also mean any other certificate not mentioned in section 318(1) which is plausible considering the fact that the Constitution puts this option in paragraph (d) after listing the other options in paragraphs (a-c). Again, by not stating any qualification in section 318(1)(d), the Constitution has mandated INEC to determine any other qualification which, in this writer’s opinion, not in section 318(1)(a-c) and may even be below Primary Six School Leaving Certificate or its equivalent but must be acceptable to INEC. Therefore, a Presidential candidate may not have a Secondary School Certificate or its equivalent or Grade II Teacher’s Certificate, the City and Guilds Certificate; or Education up to Secondary School Certificate Level; or Primary Six School Leaving Certificate or its equivalent with other conditions attached in section 318(1)(c) but could still be allowed to contest the Presidential Election if INEC is satisfied with any other qualification he may possess. In other words, “School Certificate or its equivalent” as used in section 131(d) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is not only limited to “Secondary School Certificate or its equivalent or Grade II Teacher’s Certificate, the City and Guilds Certificate”; or “Education up to Secondary School Certificate Level”; or Primary Six School Leaving Certificate or its equivalent with other conditions attached in section 318(1)(c) but “Any other qualification acceptable to the Independent National Electoral Commission.” Section 318(1)(d) is a wide discretion given to INEC. It is rather too wide because if INEC accepts a Presidential candidate based on any qualification acceptable to it, no Political Party or individual can question such discretionary powers exercised by INEC within the province of the Constitution. See, Imam v. Sheriff (2005) 4 Nigerian Weekly Law Report (Part 914) 80 at 204-205, paragraphs H-A. In the case of HAASTRUP ADEWALE OLATUNJI V. GBEDE ADEREMI WAHEED & 4 Others reported in [2012] 7 Nigerian Weekly Law Report (Part 1298) Page 24 at 46, paragraphs A-B, the Court of Appeal held that since INEC accepted an Arabic and Islamic Training School Certificate, then section 318(1)(d) of the 1999 Constitution had been complied with.

Conversely, in the same case of HAASTRUP ADEWALE OLATUNJI V. GBEDE ADEREMI WAHEED (supra) at page 46, the Court of Appeal interpreted section 318(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and came to the conclusion that the meaning and definition of School Certificate level or its equivalent as contained in section 318(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) can accommodate candidates who woefully failed in their bid to obtain a West African School Certificate who are described as W.A.S.C. “attempted” or “failures.” The Court went further to state that a Presidential or National Assembly candidate need not have obtained the Secondary School Certificate level or passed the Secondary School Certificate examination because it was sufficient that such a Presidential or National Assembly candidate or aspirant had attended up to Secondary School level without passing or obtaining the certificate. See also the case of Haske v. Magaji (2009) ALL Federation Weekly Law Report (Part.461) Page 887 at 905, paragraphs B-C particularly paragraphs D-F.

In the case of Bayo v. Njidda (2004) ALL Federation Weekly Law Report (Part 192) Page 10; (2004) Nigerian Weekly Law Report (Part 876) Page 544 at 630 the Court of Appeal, per Ogbuagu, J.C.A. (as he then was and later Justice of the Supreme Court), stated thus:
“In other words, as regards a Secondary School Certificate level, one does not have to pass the Secondary School Certificate Examination. It is enough, in my view that one attended a secondary school and read up to the Secondary School Certificate level i.e. without passing and obtaining the certificate.”

See also Imam v. Sheriff (2005) 4 Nigerian Weekly Law Report (Part 914) 80 at 157, paragraph H, page 167; Chukwu v. Icheonwo (1999) 4 Nigerian Weekly Law Report (Part 600) 587 and Digai v. Nanchang (2005) ALL Federation Weekly Law Report (Part 140) 41.

Besides in Imam v. Sheriff (supra) at page 173, paragraphs A-B, the same Court of Appeal, per Ogbuagu, J.C.A. (as he then was and later Justice of the Supreme Court), stated thus:

“Again, if the Grade II Teacher’s Certificate, is equivalent to a School Certificate, by virtue of section 177(d) of the 1999 Constitution, the only qualification required, is that the candidate had been educated up to at least Grade II Teachers’ Certificate and not that he obtained or was awarded the certificate .… ”

See also, Chukwu v. Icheonwo (1999) 4 NWLR (Pt. 600) 587 at 596.

The same Court of Appeal, in the same Imam v. Sheriff (supra) per Sanusi, J.C.A, at page 206, paragraphs G-H, stated thus:

“Again it is submitted by the learned silk on behalf of the appellants that a statement of result was not even produced. The learned senior counsel for the appellant kept on hammering on the failure of the 2nd respondent’s counsel to produce Teacher’s Grade II Certificate. I have stated earlier and I will repeat it once again that, the law (Constitution) nowhere insisted that a candidate for contest of Governorship election must show or produce a Certificate that he passed the exam (Grade II). It is sufficient if he produces evidence of attendance of such course or School Leaving Certificate. That has been a settled law long ago. There are plethora of cases on that, one of them is Chukwu v. Icheonwo (1999) 4 NWLR (Pt.600) 587 at 596”

Again in the case of Ndayako v. Mohammed [2006] 17 Nigerian Weekly Law Report (Part 1009) Page 655 at Page 683, paragraphs D-G, the Court of Appeal, per Honourable Justice Rhodes-Vivour (as he then was now a Justice of the Supreme Court), stated thus:
“Exhibit F is the 1st respondent’s Higher School Certificate indicative of the fact that he sat for the HSC exams. The position of the law is that where documentary evidence supports oral testimony such oral testimony becomes more credible. This is so as documentary evidence serves as a hanger from which to assess oral testimony. See Kimdey v. Military Governor of Gongola State (1988) 2 NWLR (Part 77) page 445; Omoregbe v. Lawani (1980) 3-4 S.C. p. 117; Buraimoh v. Esa (1990) 2 NWLR (Pt.133) p.406. My Lords, since there is evidence that the 1st respondent sat for the West African School Certificate Exams and the Higher School Certificate this is more than is required by section 65(2)(a) of the Constitution. What is required is compelling evidence that a candidate for the Senate (herein President) is educated up to the required level and it is not necessary that such a candidate must produce his West African School Certificate. In this case the 1st respondent comfortably exceeds the educational requirement. Exhibit F is conclusive of that fact.”

Therefore from the foregoing provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and its interpretation by the court, it is clear and undisputable that the minimum qualification for a contestant of the Presidential office is education up to at least School Certificate Level or its equivalent. It is not the requirement of the Constitution or the Electoral Act that a candidate for an election into the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria must obtain or produce his or her certificate. It suffices to say that once he leads evidence through an affidavit or other means to show that he, at least, obtained School Leaving Certificate even without passing such examination or its equivalent, then the candidate is qualified to contest the election. See, Section 318(1)(c) of the 1999 Constitution and Imam v. Sheriff (supra) page 204, paragraphs G-H.

Conclusion

From the above analysis, based on the facts and the law, it is submitted that it is not a mandatory constitutional requirement for General Buhari or any other Presidential candidate to produce his secondary or primary school certificate or its equivalent to the INEC before he will be eligible to contest the 14/2/2015 Presidential election. Second, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) did not stipulate that a Presidential candidate or aspirant, such as General Buhari, must produce his secondary or primary school certificate or its equivalent before he will be eligible to contest a Presidential election. Third, “school certificate” is not the minimum requirement for a Presidential candidate to be eligible to contest a Presidential election in Nigeria having regard to the provision of section 318(1)(d) that allows INEC to accept any other qualification from the Presidential candidate or aspirant. Fourth, INEC can allow a Presidential candidate to contest a Presidential election even though the candidate has a qualification below “school certificate level.” Fifth, the fact that General Buhari attended Provincial Secondary School, Katsina, Katsina State (now Government College, Katsina) is enough to make him eligible to contest the Presidential election of 14/2/2015. Sixth General Buhari could not have attended Provincial Secondary School, Katsina, Katsina State, without attending primary school and obtaining Primary School Leaving Certificate. Seventh, having obtained a Primary Six School Leaving Certificate, INEC was right in registering General Buhari as the Presidential aspirant or candidate of the All Progressive Part (‘APC’) because his Secondary School Certificate is no longer necessary. Eight there are facts that General Buhari is a retired from the Nigerian Army which is part of the Civil Service of the Federation and served more than ten years in the Nigerian Army? Nine as a retired Military Officer General Buhari should by virtue of the law be entitled to monthly pension? Ten there is evidence that General Buhari attended courses and training while in Military Service? Eleven, the fact that General Buhari made credit in English Language is a presumption that he has the ability to read, write, understand and communicate in the English language? Twelve, the fact that the Nigerian Army confirmed that Form 199A in their record shows that General Buhari passed the West African School Certification examination is enough evidence that General Buhari went to secondary school. Thirteen, the publication of General Buhari’s Statement of result in Punch Newspapers of 22/1/2015, a public document demonstrates that he is educated up to at least School Certificate level. Fourteen, General Buhari’s Statement of Result is evidence that he obtained the West African School Certificate from Provincial Secondary School, Katsina, Katsina State.

This is my opinion.

Mr. Adolphus Nwachukwu.
Mike Igbokwe SAN & Co.
Ikoyi, Lagos


facebook: www.facebook.com/nwachukwuadolphus

22 comments:

  1. I couldn't finish reading it

    ReplyDelete
  2. change! change! change! dat is Wat we need. bye to GEJ

    ReplyDelete
  3. Even if he bring's out nepa bill as certificate i we still vote for his so p.d.p go and sit down.

    ReplyDelete
  4. MR EDDY said this Heat wan kill person o. I miss Harmattan.

    And am I suppose to read all of these and digest it? Hell No.
    ^
    ^
    ^™THAT EDO BOY.COM~

    ReplyDelete
  5. present a tissue paper!!! ama vote u in

    ReplyDelete
  6. Original or fake none concern me, even if to say na blank paper GMB show as certificate, he is still the man of the people. Go buhari since PHD failed us let us try illiteracy. who knows, it might work.

    www.udokajane.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
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    1. @Udoka,you sound all sorts of ignorant with your '...let us try illiteracy' line.Be informed that military education's far more superior to civil education hence the reason the world relies heavily on military technology.To imply that a General in the army anywhere in the world;with all the training and advanced courses' an illiterate doesn't make you sound intelligent.

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  7. Who is this Adolphus Nwachuku? Are u ok at all? abeg take a several seat wit all dis ur yeye write-up. Attention seker oshi.

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    1. You call a lawyer an attention seeker? You need your head checked

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  8. Click the link & read this powerful message that has transformed the life of millions.(Dr. D.K Olukoya)-A MUST READ
    http://sermonjotters.blogspot.com/2015/01/word-of-day-dancers-at-gate-of-death.html

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  9. Say @Good luck

    Say Aso rock


    Say President


    Say February



    "Heaven on earth!!!!Wonders without end,that's my new realm"




    @Galore

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  10. Abeg make them leave this man

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  11. Mr Nwachukwu, do u need to prove all these? Even if General cannot write, one tenth of this ur write up is enough to apply to both Cambridge n WASC and end this embarrassment for good. It will earn him 50% of Pres Jona vote if he does this.
    Na wah ooo. If not for anythg but for posterity. Also analyse the impact on the society using statement of result, affidavit and confirmation by friends as a confirmed result. Let's be ready to accept the trend cos you cannot end it with d General oo..

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  12. Abeg too long for me to read, someone should summarise.

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  13. I tried reading to an extent,bt cld nt finish it.

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