Human rights lawyers, Mr Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa (SAN) and Mr Jiti Ogunye, have said the absence of diligent prosecution of persons found guilty of certificate or result forgery, especially influential members of the society, was one of the reasons for the incidence of forgery in the country.
They noted that if examples had been made of those found guilty, it would have served as deterrence to others.
Their reaction came in the wake of the Ejikeme Mmesoma saga. Mmesoma had sat the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination and claimed that she scored 362 in the exam, which had earned her accolades and offer of scholarships by the Anambra State Government and an indigenous automaker, Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing.
Meanwhile, the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board faulted her claim of being the highest scorer in the exam, pointing out that she scored 249 as against the 362 she claimed. After days of trading words on the issue, with both parties insisting they had evidence to back their positions, Mmesoma on Wednesday admitted that she indeed scored 249 and not 362.
The examination body withdrew her result and banned her from sitting the exam for the next three years. It noted that there had been such instances of forgery in the past, which it detected through its foolproof system.
Similarly, some top politicians and government officials had in the past been caught in certificate forgery, with most of them claiming to have attended certain institutions, which they never did. For example, a former Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, resigned from office after she was accused of forging her NYSC certificate, while a former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Salisu Buhari, also resigned his position over accusations of certificate forgery.
Speaking on the spate of certificate or result forgery in the country, Adegboruwa in an interview with our correspondent on Thursday said institutions were failing and that in the cases involving politicians, political intervention often frustrated such cases.
He noted, “Cases that should be prosecuted are being hidden under the carpet and the complainant ends up becoming the victim, so it has to do with getting the right people to ensure that the security people focus on their core mandate.”
Adegboruwa stressed the need for security agencies and prosecuting agencies to focus on their core mandate and let justice run its course.
Also, Ogunye said laws should be vigorously enforced to deter members of the society from forgery. He noted that falsification of results or forgery was not peculiar to Nigeria but a global phenomenon that could be reduced if perpetrators were brought to book.
He stated, “The problem we have here is that our laws are not rigorously, conscientiously enforced. Too often, criminals in high places and low places are permitted to go scot-free.
“Why is it so difficult for the ordinary people to get justice in this system, and the state to give justice? It is because there are many people who ought to be prosecuted but who are left alone for political reasons or because there is corruption in the system. And we have many of them. So, if the law is enforced the way it ought to be, I believe that people will take notice.”