THE academic credentials of former military ruler and presidential hopeful, Major General Muhammadu Buhari, were seized by the military junta of General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida sometime in 1985.
That was the submission on Wednesday of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the political party fielding General Buhari for next month’s presidential election.
According to the party, the credentials were carted away by soldiers who raided the home of Buhari, when the Babangida junta seized power from the APC candidate in a coup.
Buhari, who had staged a coup against the civilian administration of Alhaji Shehu Shagari on 31 December 1983, was also ousted by his military colleagues on 27 August 1985, led by Gen. Babangida.
“After the coup and the arrest of Gen. Buhari by the Babangida administration, military officers raided the home of Buhari, ransacked it and carted away many documents. Buhari’s academic credentials were among the documents that were taken away,” a senior official of the APC, Mr. Rotimi Fashakin said on Wednesday.
Fashakin, who was the spokesman of Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) before it merged with other parties to form the APC, made the disclosure during a live interview on Channels Television in Lagos.
Buhari’s academic qualification has become an issue in the coming general election since the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) disclosed that the Army General had lodged with it an affidavit that his academic credentials were with military authorities.
Section 131 (d) of the 1999 constitution prescribes minimum qualification for election into the office of the president.
It states: “A person shall be qualified for election to the office of the President if – “he has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.”
The provision is silent on whether the “school certificate” should be primary school or secondary school.”
The ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has consistently expressed fears that Buhari has neither.
Fashakin believes that Buhari will not be contravening the nation’s laws even if fails to present his basic school leaving certificates to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He outlined the primary and secondary schools attended by Buhari and drew attention to the several military trainings of the General.
Fashakin said that the Electoral Act simply requires that aspirants submit “documents” on their credentials, adding that the affidavit deposed to by Buhari that the certificates were with the military could satisfy the requirement of “document.”
A top serving General at the Defence Headquarters, in an interview with the Daily Times on Wednesday, expressed doubts on Buhari’s claim of credentials being with the military.
The General, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told the Daily Times: “The Army only keeps the Course Reports on officers and this remains confidential. In addition, the military takes custody only of photocopies of all other credentials submitted by officers. The originals of all credentials remain with the officers.”