The President of Nigeria’s Court of Appeal between 1999 and 2009, Justice Umaru Abdullahi, on Wednesday said he sat for the West African School Certificate exams in 1961 alongside Muhammadu Buhari, the Presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress.
In an interview with Leadership newspaper Wednesday, Justice Abdullahi, 75, said he and a few other prominent Nigerians were Mr. Buhari’s classmates at the Provincial Secondary School, Katsina (now Government College, Katsina) and that the APC candidate was among the most brilliant students then.
“I, Buhari and some others had the best results during our final examinations in secondary school back then,” Leadership quoted the retired judge as saying. “He was a very brilliant student in school, no doubt; we attended the same school from primary to secondary school.”
Justice Umaru Abdullahi
The report also quoted a retired Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Coomasie, as confirming Mr. Buhari’s attendance and graduation from Katsina Provincial College.
The paper quoted Mr. Coomassie as saying, “While we were in school, Buhari was the head boy. He loves playing football. We were all close friends in school. After we finished secondary school, General Buhari decided to join the military, I joined the police and Justice Abdullahi decided to go to the university.”
“I, the late Shehu Yar’Adua, the late Halilu, a Grand Khadi in Katsina, Senator Abdul Ali, a Senator in the 2nd Republic and several other attended the same school.”
Messrs Abdullahi and Coomassie spoke following the controversy over Mr. Buhari’s academic credential.
The PDP had accused the APC presidential candidate of not possessing the requisite academic qualification to stand for election.
On Wednesday, Mr. Buhari addressed a press conference in Kano explaining that he attended and sat for WASC exam with some prominent Nigerians still alive.
“… let me say for the record that I attended Provincial Secondary School, Katsina. I graduated in 1961 with many prominent Nigerians, including General Shehu Yar’Adua, former chief of staff at the Supreme Headquarters, and Justice Umaru Abdullahi, a former President of the Court of Appeal,” the APC candidate said. “We sat for the University of Cambridge/WASC Examination together in 1961, the year we graduated. My examination number was 8280002, and I passed the examination in the Second Division.”
A few hours after Mr. Buhari’s speech, PREMIUM TIMES exclusively made public the APC candidate’s statement of result as well as a master list from the University of Cambridge containing the results of his classmates.
The two documents were made available by Mr. Buhari’s old school, Government College, Katsina.
The statement of results is printed on the letter head paper of the Katsina State Ministry of Education, and it shows that the examination took place in 1961.
The Cambridge print out also shows the result of 17 other candidates at the centre, including Shehu Yar’Adua, a former Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters.
Controversy over Mr. Buhari’s result escalated Tuesday after the Nigerian Army, which had earlier admitted to having copies of his certificate, reversed itself, saying it could not even attest to the details listed in his records.
The spokesperson of the Army, Olajide Laleye, said “Neither the original copy, certified true copy (CTC) nor statement of result of Major-.Gen. Mohammadu Buhari‘s WASC result is in his personal file.”
He said while it is the practice in the Nigerian Army that before candidates are shortlisted for commissioning into the officers’ cadre of the service, the selection board verifies the original copies of credentials as presented, “There is no available record to show that this process was followed in the 1960s.”
The military’s comments came after the retired general had said that his lost copies of results were with the Army, an explanation he gave ahead of elections February 14.
Mr. Buhari expressed shock at the claim and told the media in Kano, Wednesday, that he had given the controversy no serious thought until the intervention by the military.
But even after the documents, which appear to corroborate Mr. Buhari’s claims about his credentials, became public, the PDP presidential campaign organization questioned its authenticity and accused the APC candidate of forgery and perjury.
The spokesperson for the PDP presidential campaign, Femi Fani-Kayode told journalists Wednesday, “The implication of the action of this so-called “Mr Clean” is nothing but perjury and we all know that this is a grave criminal offence under our laws and constitution.
“We urge Buhari and his party to do the right thing, tender an unreserved apology to the Nigerian people. He should throw in the towel and report to the nearest police station for interrogation and prosecution. Anything less than that would be an insult to the collective intelligence and integrity of the Nigerian people.”