By Godwin Etakibuebu
I planned to conclude my discussion on the Nigerian Senate versus the Nigerian Customs Service this week until the drama of absurdity plus its attendant dance-steps of madness took place in the Nigerian Senate last week.
Oh my God! the floor of the Senate, last week dished out more than enough for any group of best comedians can ever present in lifetime. Our own first-class Ali Baba and all his compatriots in the famous world of comedy couldn’t have presented a better show than what the Senate presented last week.
Let us go through it. A few days back, an online media; the Sahara reporters came out with two exclusive news reports. One, the glamorous and ever-loquacious Senator from Kogi State, Dino Melaye [these are his names known to all and even the Nigerian laws] never graduated with degree from any of all the universities he has claimed to have attended. The news even added that the man had only three Credits in his West African School Certificate as against five credits needed for eligibility for admission into any Nigerian University – the implication being that his admission into the Ahmadu Bello University for any degree course would be fraudulent if the fact of him having only three credits can be established.
Two, the Sahara reporters ran a story that the Senate President; Bukola Saraki was involved in short payment of import duty on one bullet-proof SUV car he imported. He did not commit the alleged crime of short-payment only but that the documents used in processing and clearing the car from the port was allegedly forged and that these malfeasance were processed through the Senate Secretariat . But for the eagle eyes of the NCS, which intercepted and seized the said car while it was being taken to Abuja for delivery to the owner, the acts would have left the Nigerian State losing some hundreds of millions of Naira.
These were the allegations that emanated from the Sahara reporters against these larger-than-life personalities and since the personae dramatis involved are respectfully refer to as “principality and powers and rulers of darkness in the Nigerian State’s heavenly places”, it is expected that they would clear their “good and impeccable names” in the first place before fighting back. They chose instead, the double barrel approach of fighting back and defending their names simultaneously. It is the path they followed in clearing their names that resulted into the dance-steps of absurdity being analysed here today. Let us look at the case of Senator Dino Melaye first before reviewing the case of his political boss; Senator Bukola Saraki.
Dino Melaye pulled all the ammunition in his lethal armoury together at once and with understandable ferocity. He headed to the court to slam a libel suite of Five Billion Naira against the Sahara reporters. While he was between the court and gathering his star witnesses to attest to his reputation, one of the university’s’ authority; the Oxford, he claimed to have graduated from denounced him publicly, saying Dino Melaye never graduated from Oxford.
The Nigerian people, ditto the international community, waited patiently to hear what Ahmadu Bello University would say about the man who claimed to have obtained his first degree from that university. The verdict came last week when the Vice-Chancellor of the university Professor Ibrahim Garba, appeared before the Senate Committee on Ethics and Privileges, in a well-researched and rehearsed script, to announce that “Dino Melaye graduated from the university with Third Class Honours BA, Geography in the year 2000”. But, and this is the real cache, the VC was quick to add that the man “graduated as Daniel Jonah Melaye” and not Dino Melaye.
It is this additional information of the VC that he graduated as “Daniel Jonah Melaye and not Dino Melaye” that has complicated and darkened the case of this Senator, in my humble opinion and may be, in the marketplace of legality. Permit me to present a name in a very recent past event, that happened in the very first Senate of this Fourth Republic for our collective evaluation. The name of the person in question was Senator Evans Enwerem, a distinguished and brilliant man who graduated from the Southampton University in the United Kingdom with flying colours better than Third Class, served brilliantly in many capacities before he was elected President of the Senate on June 3rd 1999 and removed from office on November 18th the same year, on allegation of “name falsification”.
If the “erudite” Senator Melaye graduated from ABU in the year 2000, he would not have been too young not to know the details of what happened in the Nigerian Senate in 1999. It means he knew that Enwerem removal, on the allegation of “name falsification” bordered on the fact that his he came to the Senate with the name of Evan Enwerem on his degree certificate whereas his earlier school days certificates bore the name Evans Enwerem. It was the difference of this one letter “S” that dethroned him from the Senate Presidency. The question he could not answer was “which one are you – Evan or Evans?” It is just the letter “S” that caused that deadly havoc to this gentleman of blessed memory.
Now that we have the authentication from ABU that a “Daniel Jonah Melaye” graduated from it and the Senator we are listening to at the Senate is “Dino Melaye”, someone somewhere needs to explain to Nigerians if the “Daniel Jonah Melaye” of ABU is the same “Dino Melaye” at the Senate. Unless there are court records of change of names, through affidavits or public notaries [and these things are not too difficult to procure in Nigeria], the argument about the difference between these distinctly two legal entities [Daniel Jonah Melaye and Dino Melaye] shall remain a naughty obstacle to vindication dance on the path of this two-in-one man.
There is more to be said on this before going to Oga Bukola Saraki but they have to wait till next week.
Godwin Etakibuebu, a veteran journalist wrote from Lagos.