By Okoi Obono-Obla
In his impetuous and hysteric reaction to the release of the University of Cambridge/West African School Certificate result of General Buhari after the furore generated by the statement of the Nigerian Army that the Office of the Military Secretary was not in possession of General Muhammadu Buhari’s School Certificate by Government College, Katsina, the Director of Media and Publicity of President Good luck Jonathan, Femi Fani-Kayode quickly, called a Press Conference.
In his address, Femi Fani-Kayode (who has earned a notoriety as an unrepentant Buhariphobic) agitatedly and pointedly accused General Buhari of the offence of perjury and called on him to report himself to the nearest Police Station and withdrew from the Presidential Race.
I say without fear of contradiction that the position of Femi Fani-Kayode that General Buhari lied under oath is nothing but political grandstanding and gimmick.
The position of Femi Fani-Kayode is not supported by the state of the law on perjury in the country.
It amounts to the blowing of hot air by Femi Fani-Kayode to continue to divert the attention of the electorates from serious issues that should be the focus of the Candidates contesting the Presidential Election scheduled for 14th February, 2015, as a strategy by his Political Party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to avoid rendering of its stewardship of the reins of power in the country for the past Six years in particular and sixteen years in general, in the face of disillusionment and discontentment shown by Nigerians over its dismal and abysmal performance that so strikingly manifests under the Jonathan’s Presidency.
The truth of the matter is that General Buhari did not lie under oath. General Buhari never committed perjury when he solemnly, faithfully and truthfully swore to an Affidavit dated the 24th November 2014 before the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, that his certificates are with the Office of the Military Secretary.
The pertinent question would be: Is the statement by General Buhari that his certificates were with the Military Secretary, false?
Recall that General Laleye had told us on the 4th January, 2015, that the Office of the Military Secretary was in custody of all General Buhari’s Academic Records and would be made available to him whenever he requests for them.
However, on the 20th January, 2015, General Laleye recanted and said that the Army was not in custody of General Buhari’s School Certificate again!
Does the volte-face by General Laleye not smack of a foul play? Why did General Laleye contradict himself in such a terrible manner?
Yesterday General Buhari strongly affirmed that he still believed that his School Certificate is with the Military Secretary.
Could it be that somebody removed General Buhari’s School Certificate in order to raise the dust that occupied the Public domain in both the print and social media in the past 2 weeks, in alignment with the script of the PDP?
It is clear that from the circumstance of this matter what can be inferred is what played out as classic politicking – the Nigerian Style.
It is clear from all that later transpired, that the statement by General Buhari in his Affidavit that his Certificates were with the Military Secretary, was made in absolute good faith.
In other words, General Buhari indeed believed all the while that his Certificates were with the Military Secretary until when General Olajide Laleye addressed a Press Conference on the 20th January 2015 that his certificate was not found in his academic records found in his file with the Military Secretary but an endorsement that he therein that he met the academic requirement to be Commissioned as an Officer in the Nigeria Army.
The Court of Appeal in the case of Terytex Nigeria Ltd vs. Nigerian Ports Authority (1989) 1 NWLR (Pt.96) 229 (per Ephraim Omoroseibukun Akpata JCA (as he then was) defined the word “perjury” thus:
“Any person who, in any judicial proceeding, or for the purpose of instituting any judicial proceeding, knowingly gives false testimony touching any matter which is material to any question then pending in that proceeding or intended to be raised in that proceeding is guilty of an offence which is called perjury”.
For an offence of perjury to be committed General Buhari from his deposition in an Affidavit stating that his Certificates are with the Military Secretary, he must be found to have the essential “mens rea” (guilty mind) when he allegedly ‘perjured’ or made the perjury.
In the case of Omoregie vs. Federal Director of Public Prosecutions F.S.C. 260/1961, the then Federal Supreme Court of Nigeria, held that the accused was not guilty of the offence of perjury because the prosecution failed to establish that he knowingly said what he said knowing it to be untrue, nor can it be said that on the whole evidence that any of them is material to the question at hand in the case before the learned Judge.
The PDP should stop distracting us forthwith in this campaign. We want to hear PDP’s success story on power, corruption, education, transport, health, Job creation, poverty eradication, economy etc and not frivolities and inanities anymore.
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