By Akin Akande, Abuja
As preparations for local government election in Bayelsa State gather momentum, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chairmanship candidate for Ogbia local government area, Abah Richard, has been accused of forging several certificates and also parading credentials from a non-existing University in London.
Richard emerged winner of the December 15, 2012 PDP local government primaries with overwhelming 215 votes with the closest rival Monday Eribo securing 14 votes while the third aspirant, Afagha Tutuganam Peter got only three votes.
But in a petition to the PDP National Chairman dated 19 January 2013, lawyers to Monday Eribo said fielding the winner of the primary might backfire for PDP as he has questionable academic and tax clearance certificates which opponents of PDP might latch on to remove him from office if he eventually wins the election.
The petition which was signed by Barrister Olu Ojujoh, alleged that the WAEC certificate number SC448754A which Richard submitted to the PDP screening committee, which the party has in turn presented to the Bayelsa State Independent Electoral Commission, “the subject mathematics is omitted contrary to the normal practice with the only conclusion that it is forged”.
The petitioner also raised questions about the authentic age of the PDP candidate and how he was able to obtain a certificate of exemption from the mandatory NYSC service at the age of 28 when he claimed he graduated from University of North London.
“This candidate, who entered secondary school on the claim that he was born on the 18th day of March, 1967, could have been 28 years of age in 1995 when he claimed to have graduated from University of North London, yet he did not find it difficult to obtain a certificate of exemption from the National Youth Service Corps on the ground of age, a clear proof that the certificate of exemption was obtained by fraud.
“Our enquiries show that there is no University known as University of North London in the compendium of Universities in Britain”.
On the tax clearance certificate Richard submitted to the PDP screening panel, the defeated aspirant alleged that the three years tax certificates are dubious as they have serial numbers of same booklet.
“The winner of the primary election conducted by your great party for chairmanship of Ogbia local government area of Bayelsa state paid all the taxes for the three years of 2009, 2010 and 2011 on the 19th of November 2012 on receipts with serial number on same booklet from Rivers State and used the same receipt to obtain a tax clearance certificate number RVS 6A 381397 from the Rivers State ministry of finance on 22 November 2012, yet the screening committee of the party did not see anything wrong in the tax clearance certificate”.
In the petition, which was copied to President Goodluck Jonathan, Governor Seriake Dickson and the chairman of Bayelsa State PDP, they equally alleged that Richard was not qualified to participate in the PDP primaries as his participation is in breach of Article 11, part 1(8) a-b (9) and (18) of the PDP constitution as he only came back to the PDP after decamping to other political parties.
By Akin Akande, Abuja