–      May head to court if,……..

Despite what seems to be far from the embattled Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Rt Hon (Dr) Chiji Collins, who has been swimming in trouble waters for some time now, as a human rights group known as Advocacy for Justice and Accountability, has called for his resignation as Speaker and member of the State Legislature on the grounds of certificate forgery, perjury and false declaration of age.

The group in a letter signed by Yomi Balogun, dated 15th July, 2020 and addressed to the Honourable Speaker, a copy of which was made available to the press, urged him to resign without delay and refund all salaries, allowances and emoluments he earned in his capacity as a legislator and Speaker of the House of Assembly from 2015 till date. It also expressed it’s intention “to proceed to court for an order of mandamus, investigation and prosecution for use of unverifiable and fraudulent National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Certificate of Exemption and Ph.D Certificate, forgery and perjury, under the criminal laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

“Our attention has been drawn to the incredible facts that you purport to hold a Ph.D certificate, a National Diploma and National Youth Service Corps Certificate of Exemption No 055494, purportedly acquired on 8th June, 1989, 30th July 1981 and 22nd July, 1993, respectively”.

“It has also been discovered that the said National Diploma (first degree) was obtained in 1981 at the age of Twenty four (24) years, while the Ph.D certificate you parade, with the inscription “La Laurea Di Dottore” said to have been obtained on June 1989, which you submitted to INEC in Form CF0001 and continue to flaunt as a Ph.D holder is equivalent to a Bachelors degree. You also submitted an NYSC Certificate of Exemption No: 055494, with which you were exempted from the compulsory National assignment on the grounds of age”.

“Whereas, under the NYSC act, one can only be exempted on the grounds of age issued with such certificate, if such a person is above the age of 30 as at the time of graduation/obtaining his first degree. But available records show that, you were born in 1957 and obtained your first degree in 1981, at the age of 24, seven (7) years before you were due for such exemption as stated in a statutory declaration of age by one Chief Julius Ashagwara of Eziama, Osuama in Isiala Mbano LGA of Imo State, on 17th December, 2014, at the High Court Registry, Owerri”.

“Unlawful evasion of the compulsory one year National Youth Service assignment is a criminal offence, punishable under the provision of section 13 (1) a of the NYSC act, while giving false information on oath amounts to perjury and is also punishable under Nigeria’s criminal law”.

The group averred that, it has become overwhelmingly necessary that Dr Chiji Collins vacates the office of Speaker, subsequently resign as a member of the State House of Assembly, and desist henceforth from earning salaries, allowances or enjoying the perks of office, “using these obviously false, fraudulent and dishonest foundation on the basis of which you were elected”.

Note that, “we shall also, as part of our tenets and in line with our social responsibility to the people, seek and take out an order of mandamus for full investigation and prosecution of your person in the next seven (7) days, to unravel the circumstances surrounding your Ph.D certificate, NYSC Certificate of Exemption No: 055494, having graduated/obtained a first degree at an age not above 30 years to be so qualified”.

 “We will also ensure that all such emoluments, salaries and allowances you earned from 2015 till date and as may have be enabled by these incredible qualifications stated in INEC form CF0001, are returned to the coffers of the state government. Note, also that your removal from office will not deter us from seeking your investigation or prosecution in line with the criminal laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, it concluded.