Certificate Forgery: Razak Atunwa ALLEGEDLY plots to present WAEC as highest qualification


The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has refused to explain its position to Nigerians a week after its governorship candidate in Kwara State, Rasak Atunwa, was exposed for forging the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) discharge certificate.
The party’s national headquarters and its chapter in Kwara both continue to sidestep the scandal despite repeated attempts by PREMIUM TIMES to understand their position on whether Mr Atunwa would be passed to the Independent National Electoral Commission as the party’s governorship candidate.
But PREMIUM TIMES has now learnt that Mr Atunwa has not been told to withdraw from the race or be dropped by the party, which has prompted him to intensify effort aimed at retaining his party ticket ahead of INEC submission deadline.
The electoral body has scheduled November 2 as the deadline for all parties to submit names of governorship and presidential candidates. The deadline for submission of state assemblies and National Assembly candidates lapsed on October 18.
As part of his plots to escape being dropped as candidate, Mr Atunwa has already moved to present secondary school certificate as his highest qualification.
Although the embattled politician has, for years, claimed to have obtained both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from two universities in the United Kingdom, he believes submitting only a high school certificate would extricate him from the NYSC Act that requires a university graduate to participate in a yearlong national service.
Since 1973, every Nigerian who attends a university or polytechnic have been mandated by the NYSC law to participate in the national youth scheme for one year after graduation, provided the person finished before age 30.
Failure to serve would prohibit such individual from employment in Nigeria, and making false claims about serving attracts up to 14 years in jail. Also, anyone who graduates before 30 but deliberately declines to serve has committed a crime that attracts 12-month imprisonment, even if the person did not forge NYSC documents.
Only a person who obtained a degree after 30 or served in the military or won national honours medal qualifies for exemption certificate under the NYSC law.
But even if Mr Atunwa presents his high school certificate, he would still run into legal troubles for committing perjury. He had sworn under oath at Kwara State High Court in Ilorin that he had university degrees and participated in NYSC between 1995 and 1996.
The two universities he attended in England and his qualifications were also still available on his page at the National Assembly website as of 10:40 a.m. on October 29.
The lawmaker submitted forged NYSC documents to the PDP despite two raging scandals involving two Nigerian ministers.
Kemi Adeosun, Nigeria’s finance minister, was forced to resign from office over the scandal, and communications minister, Bayo Shittu, was denied governorship nomination by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Oyo State for failing to serve his fatherland upon graduation.
(PREMIUM TIMES)

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