Mohammed Lawal Idris, the lawmaker representing Ajaokuta Federal constituency of Kogi State, may been announced candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the House of Representatives election for the constituency, but he still hasn’t been absolved of the certificate forgery scandal he has been battling for almost two years.
During the 2019 general election, Idris will be re-contesting for his seat in the lower chamber despite forging the Ordinary National Diploma certificate he is claiming to have earned in 1987 from the Yaba College of Technology (Yabatech).
Last month, SaharaReporters had reported how Idris connived with one Seun Adekoya of Yabatech’s Department of Exams and Records, forged an OND certificate which the lawmaker presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the buildup to the 2015 general election. The certificate was already investigated and dismissed by the institution itself.
The Hard Evidence
In early 2017, the Commissioner of Police, General Investigation Section, Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department of the Police at Alagbon, Lagos, received a complaint of forgery of institutional certificate/documents, attempted murder and threat to life against Idris. Acting on this, it wrote the Registrar of Yabatech for advice.
A letter on behalf of the Commissioner of Police by Abutu Yaro, a Deputy Commissioner of Police, to the Yabatech Registrar, exclusively obtained by SaharaReporters, read: “This Office is investigating the above mentioned case reported through petition by Mr. Aloysius .A. Okino.
“You are kindly requested to furnish this office with the following:
"I. Confirm if Lawal Mohammed Idris was actually a registered student of your institution and his Matriculation No. before being awarded a National Diploma Certificate in BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION with LOWER CREDIT on the 26th day of June 1987.
"II. Confirm the authenticity /genuinety or otherwise of the attached certificate awarded and duly signed on 20th of October 1990 to the aforementioned candidate, and
"III. Any other relevant information that could enhance our investigation in this case.
"Your prompt response will be appreciated, please.”
Attached to that letter was a document purportedly from Yabatech, which read: “This is to certify that Lawal Muhammed Idris, having passed the prescribed examinations, has on the 26th day of June 1987 been awarded the NATIONAL DIPLOMA In Business Administration Lower Credit.”
However, the following day a letter from Adenuga Adijat on behalf of the Registrar, addressed to the CP and titled ‘Re: Authentication of Certificate: Lawal Mohammed Idris’, disowned the said certificate.
“Your request on above refers,” Adijat wrote.
“Please be informed that Lawal Mohammed Idris was not a registered student of the college and the attached certificate which was said to have been issued to him did not emanate from Yaba college of Technology.
“Kindly discountenance his claim. Thank you.”
Dismissal of the Accomplice
Yabatech then embarked on its own internal investigations, and fished out its member of staff who helped Idris forge the certificate.
In September 2017, Charles Oni, its Director of Public Relations and Media, disclosed the name of the dismissed staff member as Seun Adekoya.
He said Adekoya, a registry staff member who was involved in sale of certificate to the serving federal lawmaker, was arrested by the State Crime Investigation Division (SCID) and detained but later granted bail.
When operatives of the SCID searched Adekoya’s house, blank Yabatech certificates, statement of results, stamp pad and other college items were found.
After his release on bail, Adekoya, who was queried by Yabatech management and later dismissed from the institution, also jumped bail.
“After he was released on bail, he resigned his appointment but the college rejected it and dismissed him.”
Response from Idris
Idris responded to our publication via a statement made by Danladi Adams and Co.(Legacy Chambers), the law firm representing him. In the rejoinder, issued on October 2 to supposedly debunk our story, Mohammed described the author of the publication as having “serious symptoms of typhoid fever or mental imbalance”.
Apart from that name-calling of a response, the statement also claimed that the Nigeria Police had cleared and exonerated him of any wrongdoing, after due investigation into the case.
“The police haven [sic] taken all the necessary steps after comprehensive investigations, cleared Honorable Lawal Idrissu of every wrongdoing and stated categorically that he was charged to court concerning the certificate forgery and was acquitted. They further went on to encourage him to go on with his political ambition and every other things he may choose to do with the said alleged forged certificate,” the statement read.
The statement went further to claim that the management of Yabatech had absolved the lawmaker of any crime bordering on certificate forgery. It even claimed that the school management presented Lawal’s examination number to the Police.
“In the course of their investigations, the management of the school hinted on the Nigeria Police force that Honorable Lawal Idrissu actually graduated from Yaba Tech. they further went on by presenting to the Nigeria Police the Examination Number of Alhaji Lawal Idrissu concerning the alleged forged certificate,” said the statement.
However, the statement did not disclose or publish the said Mohammed’s examination number the school management presented to the Police.
Verifying Idris' claims
On Thursday our reporter visited the General Investigation Section , Force C.I.I.D at Alagbon Close in Ikoyi, Lagos State, to speak with Abutu Yaro, the Deputy commissioner of Police who conducted the investigation into Lawal’s forgery case. When the DCP was asked if Honourable Lawal had actually been cleared, the man replied in the negative.
“To the best of my knowledge the man has not been cleared of the criminal offence, I have been following you guys online and I must confess that you are doing a great job. However, you guys know how you get your information,” he said.
“You can contact the Deputy Inspector General of Police in Abuja for more detail. But as far as my office is concerned, there is no new development on Lawal’s case.”
He then added “You guys don’t know you are dealing with shameless criminals.”
SaharaReporters also called the office of the Registrar at Yabatech. A worker in the office picked the phone and handed it over to a man who said he was a ‘senior worker’ there. When the man was asked about Lawal’s case, he said he was not permitted to speak to journalists on the matter and we should call back after 15 minutes to speak with the Public Relations Officer of the school. When we called the registry’s line at exactly the agreed time, the phone rang and nobody picked.
When Lanre Issa Onilu, the All Progressives Congress Publicity (APC) secretary, was contacted, he said he was not aware of the case, as he was just settling into the office.
“I am not aware of the matter, to be honest with you. I just assumed this post some days ago,” he said.
“I am still trying to familiarize myself with everything here. You know all these post-primary crises we are dealing with for now. Once, we are through I will find out.”