PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari continued on Wednesday his defence at the Presidential Election Petition Court (PEPC) by calling four witnesses, including a senior official of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) and one of his (President’s) aides .
The senior WAEC official, Henry Adewunmi Oshindehinde, a Deputy Registrar in Charge of School Examination in Nigeria and the Senior Special Assistant to the President (Household and Social Events), Mohammed Sarki Abba, confirmed that Buhari possesses secondary school qualification certificates.
Oshindehinde confirmed that he certified the statement of results of the University of Cambridge WASC examination obtained by Buhari in 1961 as a student of the Provincial Secondary School, Katsina. Abba said the President possesses the qualifications to stand for election.
The other two witnesses, Mohammed Usman Kwatu and Usman Dagona, who said they each acted as ward and polling unit agents of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Niger and Nasarawa states during the last presidential election, said contrary to the petitioners’ claim, the election held peacefully and was free and fair.
The four witnesses testified at the resumed hearing on Wednesday in the petition by Atiku and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), challenging the outcome of the last presidential election.
Ohindehinde, who was the first witness on Wednesday, was led in evidence by Buhari’s lead lawyer, Wole Olanipekun (SAN). He adopted his written deposition as his evidence in the case and said he was at the court on subpoena and tendered a copy of the subpoena issued by the court.
He confirmed that he certified a copy of the confidential result sheet of the University of Cambridge West African School Certificate of 1961 for the Provincial Secondary School, Katsina (marked as Exhibit R21), which was shown to him.
The lead lawyer to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Yunus Usman (SAN), did not cross-examine the WAEC official.
But, under cross-examination by Lateff Fagbemi (SAN), lawyer to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Oshindehinde explained that Exhibit R21 is the result of the University of Cambridge moderated secondary school examination, which was conducted in conjunction with his organization.
The witness confirmed that by the information contained in Exhibit 21, 18 candidates sat for the examination. Buhari is listed as number two.
“Buhari sat for eight subjects and had credit in five. The subjects and scores are: Oral English: C5; History: A3; Geography: C6; Hausa: C5; and Health Sciences; C6. He recorded an Aggregate of 32 and was awarded Grade 2,” the witness said.
Oshindehinde, who has worked with WAEC for the past 30 years, told the court that it would be wrong for anyone to claim that a person with such result did not have a secondary school certificate.
Under cross-examination with lawyer to Atiku Abubakar and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Livy Uzoukwu, the WAEC official confirmed that while Buhari’s first name was spelt as Mohamed in a document marked as Exhibit R19, the same name was spelt as Muhammadu in another document, marked as Exhibit 21.
When asked to explain the deference in the spellings, the witness said he could not offer any comment because one of the documents in which the President’s first name was spelt as Mohamed, was not authored by him and that the document was not from his organisation.
When asked to confirm if R21 qualified as a certificate, the witness said it was not a certificate, but a preceding document for the issuance of a certificate to anyone who writes WAEC’s supervised examination. “The document is not a certificate, but a primary document preceding the issuance of a certificate,” he said.
Under further cross-examination by Uzoukwu, the witness confirmed that while six subjects were entered against Buhari’s name in Exhibit 19, eight were recorded against his name in Exhibit 21.
The witness, who also confirmed that WAEC’s Registrar, Dr. Iyi Uwadiae, gave Buhari an attestation certificate on November 2, 2018, argued that an attestation certificate was not only issued when somebody’s actual certificate was missing.
Abba, who was the second witness, was led by Olanipekun to adopt his written statement as his evidence in the case and also identified some documents tendered in court, which he referred to in his statement, one of which was Exhibit 26, which is the President’s curriculum vitae (CV).
Under cross-examination by Usman, the witness said he had been with Buhari for over 30 years and that Buhari has, since assuming office as the President, addressed the country in English language.
Under cross-examination by Fagbemi, Abba identified Buhari from the photograph of the 1961 graduating students of the Provincial Secondary School, Katsina, earlier admitted in evidence by the court and marked as Exhibit 22.
The witness explained the differentials in the spelling of Buhari’s first name, as identified by the petitioners in some documents, do not distract from the fact that the names refer to the same Buhari, who sat for and passed the examination.
Abba said variation exists in the spelling of Mohammed, depending on where the person comes from. “An English man will say Mohamed; an Hausa man will say Muhammadu; a Yoruba man will say Mohammed, So, it depends on the why the name is spelt in your part of the world.”
Under cross-examination by Uzoukwu, the witness said, although Buhari’s certificates were not mentioned in his curriculum vitae and FormCF001, which he submitted to INEC, he knew the President possesses the relevant certificates.
Abba said he was “61 plus” and has never served in the military, He said he was neither Buhari’s school or class mate, and that he got the information contained in his written statement from Buhari’s CV and other documents.
At the close of the testimony by Dagona, who described himself as a retired broadcaster and farmer, Olanipekun applied for adjournment to enable his client invite more witnesses and source more documents to be tendered in the case.
Justice Mohammed Garba, who is the court’s Presiding Justice, adjourned further proceedings till August 1.