For me, the most bizarre of judgements delivered
by Justice Mohammed Garba and his Tribunal is
declaring that the names MUHAMMADU and
MOHAMED mean same thing in law, particularly
regarding the issue of very contentious certificates.
I remember a good friend of mine, whose certificate
from Lagos State University did not include the last
letter of his surname. His surname is such that
without that last letter it still made perfect Igbo
sense. So whoever decided to omit it at the exams
office must have been an Igbo man, I presumed.
But my friend is a graduate of law and knew the
implication of such omission in years ahead. It took
him letters and visits to the Exams office,
Registrar’s office and finally to the Vice Chancellor’s
office in LASU before he could get the amendment
done, otherwise his Masters degree programme in
Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe University could well have
ended up as an exercise in futility.
It took him over a year of flying to and fro Lagos
from his base in Awka and a series of letters and
proofs that he was one and same person as well as
personal identification from his head of department
in the Lagos-based university to eventually effect
But Justice Garba and his team ended up calling
my friend a stupid man.
For a man who has all documents bearing
Mohammadu to have certificates obtained in a hurry
bearing Mohamed means only one thing –
Any country worth its salt has a good secret service
and one of the most common denominators in the
clandestine business is the art of forgery. The
Mossad, CIA, MI6 and MI5, FSB and so on are
experts in this business. In their operational banks
are international passports of all nationalities in the
Whenever need arose, they found one of their
agents, affixed his/her appropriate photograph in a
very foolproof forgery and pointed in the direction of
the particular airport where such national service
Nigeria’s NIA are not far behind. Ever since General
Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida restructured the
hitherto merry-like Nigeria Security Organisation
otherwise known as NSO, and departmentalised the
nation’s secret service into NIA, DIA and SSS,
Nigeria took a huge leap into the clandestine world
of espionage and counter-espionage.
Re-christened from SSS to DSS, the art of forgery
should be and is believed to be piece of cake.
Besides, there are expert forgers, who are private
businessmen. Everything is considered business
once one makes a living out of it.
So assuming one as high profiled as the president
of the most populous black nation on earth wanted
any document to be perfectly forged, he needn’t
make any advert. His cabal should know exactly
which phone number to dial.
Till this day, I don’t know exactly what happened
that a man whose every other document, including
his diplomatic passport, bears Muhammadu ended
up with certificates bearing Mohamed.
The writer in me forced me into making guesses.
Both WAEC and Cambridge are not based in Nigeria
and both have servers(this word again), even if
INEC doesn’t. Manipulating their archives for such
act, no matter the expertise of the forger, isn’t just
So to succeed, there must be an original name to
be substituted. In 1962, there weren’t so many
students that sat for WAEC/Cambridge examination
to ease the task and invariably there was no
Maybe there was just one Buhari but then it did not
perfectly correspond with first name Muhammadu.
The first name of the Buhari they traced bore just
seven letters. Or there might not have been any
Buhari at all. Just any surname with six letters
could do. Many of the people who took WAEC in
1962 are dead. So don’t expect anyone missing his
name in that archive any time soon.
To expertly clean these letters within the space and
fix in any other letters was no problem. In the
hands of an expert forger, it’s like talking candy
from a baby. What is any forger’s nightmare is to
exceed the number of letters on the original. There
was no space for that and such tampering would
easily be detected by the ordinary eyes of an
So they decided to use the name nearest in spelling
and meaning to Muhammadu. It should have easily
been Mohammed but here again this has eight
letters, one more than required. And, ingeniously, a
name has to be manufactured from the fiction
books because our Buhari must remain in office –
Justice Garba must have been told to look the other
way and the Tribunal chairman played perfect ball,
making a mockery of certificates and
If the Supreme Court upholds this judgement, it
means legalising the art of forgery and corruption
all to favour a man who came into office swearing
to fight corruption.
Power corrupts and the power-drunk play God.
But Justice Ibrahim Tanko and whoever they have
picked for him to serve in the seven-man panel
have the chance to remove the toga of being a
country of certificate forgers from the myriad of
negatives already plaguing the country. They have to
do that or have their children and grandchildren
inherit the mess.