Barr. Felix Morka, the National Publicity Secretary, NPS of the All Progressives Congress, APC, was on Thursday night on Arise Television to field questions over President Bola Ahmed Tinubu Chicago State University, CSU certificate brouhaha. Below are excerpts:
What is your reaction to the deposition in the US? And your interpretation to what has emerged from the PDP?
The outcome of the process in the United States with regard to this matter is just exactly what we imagined and known all along, which is that, the President of Nigeria, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was a student of the Chicago State University, CSU. He partook in the full course of programme. And graduated from that school with honours. The depositions by the registrar in the US attest completely to this positions quite contrary to the original case that Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate brought to the court from the US in search of facts and information that actually do not exist. We are very delighted at the outcome. Because it vindicates the person of the president and his position all along.
Now, I listened to Osita Chidoka who made a lot of statements. Look, I sympathise with him because he is not a lawyer. As a former Minister, I expected him a whole lot from him. He should not descend to that level where he begins to make up things. Tell stories that doesn’t exist as political points. Atiku Abubakar’s political career has come to a standstill. The sun has set on his career. And I think he needs to realise it. He served in this country as Vice President. He held other positions. That is enough for any individual in this country who is politically active. I appreciate his service but he needs to rest this matter. There is nothing out of Chicago State University, CSU, that even begins to suggest that this president as a student and now as a President did anything that is questionable. Or put into question his claims to having graduated from the CSU. All of the interpretations that you listened to earlier from Chidoka, I think is just mere talk. People who have nothing else to do but rather than come on national television.
According to the registrar of the Chicago State University, CSU, who said they didn’t recognise the certificate submitted to INEC, which the PDP is saying was forged. What is your reaction to that?
That is not even remotely to be ascribed to that Registrar in deposition. He made clear and said that certificates are ceremonial documents. That no documents that itself even routinely issues let alone that which was issued many decades ago. He said that typically the school doesn’t concern itself with certificates because they are ceremonial. As a matter of fact, many situations in many schools in United States, certificates are issued by third parties not by the University. And he made that very clear. That if you lose your certificates issued to you at the time of graduation, you are welcome to return to third parties to get a replacement. Look, I am an Alumnus of Harvard Law school. If I have to get a fresh certificate from the school, I have no way of telling whether I am going to get a certificate that is exact replica of that which was issued to me at the time of my graduation. This was something that was designed and printed on that moment. Certificates do change and can change. I think what is important here is that the school, CSU under oath at that deposition made clear the immuted fact that one, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is a male, and was their student. That was verified. And that that individual attended the course of study at the school. And graduated at the school. And therefore has transcripts that is the real evidence of academic records. That is the record not the certificate. The point is that those who want to make a fuss about this, who want to continue to beat this empty drum will do so irrespective. The position of the registrar of CSU was final on this matter. He confirmed that the current president, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu was a student and a graduate of the school. By the way, neither Atiku nor anyone else at the tribunal actually filed any copies of the so-called certificate. In law, if you want to prove that a document is a forgery you must produced the original. You must produce that which you alleged was the authentic document. It is not enough to just dismiss whatever I submit and say it is fake. You must bring to evidence that document anyone can see and say in comparison the authentic copy and whatever was submitted is fake.
The document that President Tinubu submitted to INEC raises the question of according to the deposition, why did Tinubu try to prevent the document from being released in the first place?
President Tinubu is the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. But more importantly is also a sitting president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Every right that I have that you have, this man who is our president also has those rights. And in particular in the United States, there is a statutory provision in law that protect the privacy of academic records of students who attend school. At the end of this show, it won’t surprise me to open my phone and see a record. Somebody completely transmogrifying the conversation we are having right now to suggest that I said something that I didn’t say. Imagine, if everyone under the face if the sun had the liberty to approach CSU or school attended by the President to obtain his documents and records at will. By the next day, his transcript could be all over the Internet with information that has nothing to do with the original documents that was obtained from the school. In any event, you don’t interrogate a citizen and ask him why are you protecting your fundamental human rights. He has a right to privacy as established by under the laws of the United States. Don’t forget, some of the President’s in recent memory of the United States similarly resisted attempt by the oppositing political party to unveil their academic records. You think they are doing that because they didn’t go to school? Or they forge certificates? No, they do that because you know, listen, why are you looking for my records? You are entle to the information that I provide for you. If I decided that you need the information I will give it to you. Atiku Abubakar is not deserving of Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s records. Himself, Atiku, I don’t know where he went to school. I don’t know if his transcript is also in public space. But I think that it is just wrong that, because this is the President, therefore he must unveil his records.
Don’t you think as president of Nigeria he has a duty to the people of Nigeria to be open and transparent as possible?
The letter of the law says it clearly that forgery makes you ineligible to be president. It will be up to to the supreme Court to determine whether it is forgery due to careless or the intent for forgery tk deceive.
To be clear, there is absolutely no basis to suggest forgery in this matter. Nothing was forge. This president attended CSU. That I think has been put to rest. By the way, let me remind you. At the tribunal the issue that Atiku Abubakar presented was a case that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu didn’t not attend the CSU. The issue of certificate was not presented. That was not an issue that was litigated on at the tribunal. He was simply saying this man didn’t attend CSU. And I think on that question the deposition we have all witnessed has put that to rest irredeemable. On the question of forgery. What is a forgery? How can you forge a document where you have not abd not able to say it is the authentic records? Against what document do you now compare that which was presented and what you suggest to be the authentic document? By what means do you do that? Look, there is nothing for the supreme court to consider. Whatever Atiku Abubakar may wish to present to supreme court, I wish him God’s speed because it is simply another exercise in futility. He is simply going to present nothing to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court wil consider the merits of the appeal on the basis of the decision rendered by the Tribunal in this matter. That is, the court of appeal. The supreme court is a court of appeal. It is not court of first instance for trial. There is no way by legal facility that Atiku Abubakar will bring forward any documents from the US to the Supreme Court to litigate a case which a valid judgement had been given in which the supreme court is only call upon to look at the records of the tribunal whether or not that court err in law on any aspect that it gives. We are not concdrn because we are absolutely confident. This president was a student confirmed. And the issue of certificate was never discussed at the tribunal. I don’t see how that has become a relevant point to canvass before the Supreme Court.