The governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State, Umo Eno, is allegedly currently embroiled in a certificate forgery and impersonation scandal.
Akan Okon, a PDP aspirant in the state, has filed a suit asking the Federal High Court in Uyo to disqualify Eno as he was cleared in error by the party’s screening committee to participate in the primary.
According to the court documents, Okon claimed Eno altered his date of birth resulting in three different dates of birth – 24/25 April 1964 and January 1, 1964.
“The signature of Chairman of Council and the Registrar of Council on the certificate of the 2nd Defendant are all boldened but other certificates issued by the West African Examination Council for that year do not have boldened signatures of the principal officers of West African Examination Council. The implication is that the certificate of the 2nd Defendant has computer generated signatures of the Chairman and Registrar of the examining body,” court documents seen by SaharaReporters read.
“When certificate presented by the 2nd Defendant to the Governorship Screening Committee of the 1st Defendant is compared with genuine certificates issued by the examining body, it will be noticed that the letter CD and PO are the only boldened items, the alphanumeric that follow are not boldened as seen on the certificate presented by the 2nd Defendant.
“Photocopy of the certificate presented by the 2nd Defendant to the Screening Committee of the 1st Defendant fails to show the security background of the examining body. It only shows a white background.”
Okon added that the party’s governorship candidate presented forged voter’s cards and two forged West African School Certificates of 1981 and 1983 to the screening committee.
According to the documents, Eno stated in his credentials that he attended St. Francis Secondary School, Eket, Akwa Ibom State and Victory High School, Ikeja, Lagos State from 1975 to 1981 (6 years) when he obtained his Ordinary Level Certificate.
However, records showed that the 6-3-3-4 system of education commenced in Nigeria in 1983 and, as stated in the writ of summons, the first set of students that wrote the examination did so in 1989.
Reacting to the suit, a resident of the state, Bassey Isonguyio PhD asked the PDP to disqualify the candidate.
He said, “With the seemingly endless leadership crisis that has plunged Nigeria and almost every strata of government across the country, it has become pertinent for citizens to device means of subjecting those aspiring for leadership positions to unbiased independent scrutiny to ascertain that they are duly qualified for the public office they aspire to occupy.
“Clearly, the institutions saddled with such essential responsibility have all failed and with the current sad reality and its devastating negative effects, Nigerians cannot continue to risk the country, states, local government councils and other critical public offices by allowing unscrupulous people assume leadership.
“The current allegations of certificate forgery, falsification of date of birth and other controversies surrounding the 2023 governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Akwa Ibom State, Umo Eno, further buttresses the argument that our institutions in charge of maintaining law, order and ensuring due process are severely compromised and consequently contributing to the myriads of problems facing the country.
“For instance, before the forgery allegations were brought to fore by Mr Akan Okon, one of the governorship aspirants, through his legal team, there were already rumours about it. In fact, reliable sources within the PDP confirmed that the national leadership of the Party was aware of Umo Eno’s certificate forgery issue during the screening of aspirants but was compelled to ignore it and subsequently clear Umo Eno for the party’s primary election.
“Again, it is also reliably gathered that the inconsistencies in Umo Eno’s credentials were first discovered during his screening as a commissionership nominee by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly. But nonetheless, the shameful discovery was overlooked and he was cleared, confirmed and subsequently appointed as a Commissioner in the State Executive Council.
“The implication of this is that due to the compromise by established institutions, a man with very strong forgery allegations hanging on his neck, has not only criminally manipulated his way through public service, but will potentially be on the ballot and will be voted for by an electorate that is yearning for good and accountable governance.
“Umo Eno has questions to answer over his certificates, documented multiple dates of birth among others. A copy of Umo Eno’s credentials I saw showed that Mr Eno combines two Ordinary Level Certificates (African Examinations Council General Certificate of Education of June 1981 and December 1983). Having closely studied both certificates, this writer is compelled to agree with the forgery allegations. This is so because in the process of carrying out my independent investigation, I have obtained and carefully studied different certificates issued by the same examination council to other candidates who wrote the examination the same year with Umo Eno. The difference is too obvious to be ignored.
“As at the time Umo Eno claims he spent six years in secondary school, Nigeria was practicing the 6-5-4 system of education which provided six years for primary, five years for secondary and four years for tertiary schools. Umo Eno will therefore have to explain if he failed and repeated a class in secondary school, and if need be, will have to tender the result of the said failure in order to prove his case beyond every reasonable doubt.
“For instance, the candidate number on Umo Eno’s certificate is 15725119 whereas, as independently verified from my observations of other certificates, the candidates who wrote West African Examination Council General Certificate of Education, Ordinary Level in 1983 have 06 and not 15 as the first two digits of their number. It is a common knowledge that that in issuing numbers like this, there is ought to be a uniform serial format that will help the examination body keep track of the number of certificates it has issued.
“Clearly, the 06 in the candidate number on the certificates issued in 1983 was the format which apparently the forgers of Umo Eno’s certificate were not aware of. In addition, there is a very obvious difference between the signatures of Chairman of Council and the Registrar of Council on Umo Eno’s certificate and that on the certificates of other candidates who wrote the examination the same year. This, I also verified from my investigation.
“Again, a photocopy of Umo Eno’s voter’s card submitted to the PDP screening committee and obtained by me, bears 01-01-1964 as his date of birth but his curriculum vitae and credentials bear 24th April, 1964. From my investigation, Mr Eno presented the credentials with the 24th April, 1964 date of birth to the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly for screening as Commissionership nominee. It therefore means that while the government of the federal Republic of Nigeria recognises 01-01-1964 as Umo Eno’s date of birth, he is parading 24-04-1964 as his date of birth and using same to manipulate his way into public offices. Absurdly, he has provided no affidavit to clarify the issue.
“In my opinion, having carefully studied the details of the writ of summons from the Federal High Court and juxtaposed it with my independent findings from the observation on Umo Eno’s credentials, I can draw some conclusions. First, Umo Eno should be worried about the allegations of certificate forgery because the evidence is very weighty. Secondly, Umo Eno is not a diligent individual otherwise many of the damaging inconsistencies in his credentials would have been avoided. Thirdly, the PDP in Akwa Ibom must have to decide early enough whether they are prepared to sink if the impending storm eventually rocks this boat or they are going to disembark while there is still time.
“Recently, I was able to confirm that Umo Eno truly under-pays people (non-members of his church inclusive) who provide services for his under the pretext of tithe. This is an allegation that he and his cronies have been denying. As it stands now, the shady nature of Umo Eno’s history has raised a big question about his personality. If it is eventually proven that he lied about his certificates, the question will be “what else has he been lying about?” Could it be his Royalty Group business? Or his “barracks boy” story? Is Umo Eno the male version of “Ovaioza”? Who really is Umo Eno?”