By:Abubakar S. H
Thousands of indigenes under the umbrella of the Kogi Collective Interest Group, on Saturday, called on security agencies, especially the Police and the Department of State Services (DSS), to launch a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding a letter purportedly written by the Principal of Barewa College, Zaria, to save the governorship candidate of the SDP in Kogi State, Muritala Yakubu Ajaka, from an alleged certificate forgery scandal.
The groups, spread across the 21 Local Government Areas of the state, said the inconsistencies, particularly in the second letter written by the Principal of Barewa College, Alhassan Isyaku, only worsened the situation of the said candidate in a way that suggests serious foul play.
The school had issued a letter in response to a request by a respected member of the Kogi East Elders Forum, Prof. Hassan Isah, for the authentication of Yakubu’s testimonial.
In the letter, the school principal had said that, from all records, the SDP candidate never attended Barewa College.
Apparently, to contain the media fallout of the alleged scandalous letter, the College wrote a second letter, saying the previous one was issued in error and that Yakubu attended Barewa College but did not write WAEC.
The Kogi indigenes’ letter, signed by the Convener of COCIG, and two-time Chairman of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights in the state, Abduganiyu Yusuf, reads:
“Our attention has been drawn to a letter written by Barewa College, Zaria, in response to a request of authentication of a testimonial from the school presented by the governorship candidate of the Social Democratic Party in Kogi State.
“In the said letter, the Principal of the school, Alhassan Isyaku, said categorically that the governorship candidate was never a student of the school.
“The request for authentication was made by a highly respected stakeholder in Igala land, and a member of the Kogi East Elders Forum, Prof. Hassan Isah.
“In his response, titled, ‘Re-Authentication of Testimonial: Muritala Yakubu B 14667’, the school principal wrote: ‘Reference to your letter dated 30th May 2023 for the above subject matter, I write to inform you that the above named was not a student of Barewa College Zaria.
‘After thorough investigations is the following:
(i) 1995 Admissions register
(ii) 1998 WAEC gazette
(iii) List of admission
(iv) Classes files
‘We could not find the above-named student. We hope the information above will be useful.’
“Prof. Isah, in his request for authentication, dated 30th May 2023, stated, ‘I hereby write to attach a testimonial issued to Muritala Yakubu by this highly prestigious institution.
‘We would be most grateful for your assistance in confirming this information.’
“The letter was addressed to the Principal of Barewa College.
“The ink of the response letter of Barewa College debunking the claims that Muritala Yakubu attended the College had hardly dried when another letter surfaced, apparently to redeem the image of the individual involved in the scandal.
“In the letter, which we believe was hurriedly done, probably at a cost, which we cannot readily establish, the Principal only worsened the situation of the said candidate in a way that suggests serious foul play.
“We would like to also point out that the said letter, purportedly signed by the same Principal, is capable of dragging the integrity of a school as respected as Barewa College in the mud.
“In the second letter, currently circulating on social media, the Principal curiously said, ‘Refer to the letter the College wrote to you dated 31st May 2023, regarding Muritala Yakubu. ‘I write to inform you that our initial response regarding the named individual was incorrect. The situation arose from an error of omission on our part.
‘After additional investigation of our achieved records, I confirm that Muritala Yakubu with registration number 14667 was a student of the College from 1995 to 1998.
‘However, he did not seat for WAEC in 1998 in the College, hence the absence of his name in the 1998 WAEC gazette.
‘I apologise for the error and are available should you need further clarification.’
“Having read this letter carefully, we want to state that the letter has done serious damage to the reputation of Barewa College and the genuine old students association must stand up to defend their alma mater.
“The testimonial in question states that Muritala Yakubu attended the school from 1995 to 1998 and completed his Senior Secondary School Course in the same institution. Barewa College would need to state whether this completion excludes sitting for WAEC because the Principal pointed out in Paragraph 3 of his “second letter” that Muritala Yakubu did not “seat” for WAEC in the school in 1998. There is an urgent need to probe this statement further.
“Also, mark the use of the word ‘seat’ as against ‘sit’ in the same paragraph. Could this have been truly written by the Principal of Barewa College or hurriedly arranged by some ad-hoc staff to save a bad situation?
“We also note the improbable error in the letter where it is written: “After an additional investigation into our achieved…” and in the last paragraph where the Principal said: “I apologise for the error and are available should you need…” These unpardonable errors from the office of the Principal of a respected school suggest that the letter, if authentic, might have either been written under duress or under the influence of financial gratification.
“No matter the hurry, it is difficult to accept that a principal of such a reputable institution could commit such obvious grammatical and contextual errors in one short letter that contradicts the first one.
“It is also necessary to find out if the Principal actually signed the second letter. If he did, he must be invited for further clarification by security agencies.
“Finally, we observe that the photograph of the individual at the centre of this scandal, attached to the controversial testimonial, could not have been taken in 1998.
“We cannot, in the name of politics, fold our hands and allow the good name of Barewa College built over the decades to become a subject of public ridicule.
“The relevant security agencies, particularly the Police and the Department of State Services, DSS, must immediately swing into action to fully investigate this issue and unveil the masquerades behind this looming scandal.”