Pastor Umo Eno And The False Allegations Of Certificate Forgery & University Expulsion; The Truth The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth

Pastor Umo Eno And The False Allegations Of Certificate Forgery & University Expulsion; The Truth The Whole Truth And Nothing But The Truth

The Man Who Changed My Sister-In-Law

There is a Yoruba proverb that goes, “Omi yi iay’ a mon ee san gb’onen ee”. Meaning, The water that one is destined to drink will never flow past one. Put differently, whatever one is destined to become or achieve in life must come to pass. I believe a certain man has drunk the waters of destiny. I have been an avid follower of the development of Akwa Ibom State since the days of Obong Victor Attah. I speak as a Yoruba man, if what I hear about Pastor Umo Eno is true then Akwa Ibom State is on the verge of becoming the face of the dawn of a new Nigeria. The Governor-elect is a new and fresh voice emerging from Nigeria’s richest oil state. Observers say he is on the brink of rewriting Nigeria’s history from the Southernness tip of the lands bordering the Atlantic Ocean. I have a sister-in-law in Akwa Ibom State she was a staunch supporter and founding member of one of the opposition parties in the State but she told me last November that a chance encounter with Pastor Umo Eno on one of his campaign trails completely transformed her. She described it as an epiphany that informed her new political direction in the State. Right now, my sister-in-law is one of his dedicated supporters. She keeps talking to me about the man’s humility and modesty. At one point she even wondered if he was Governor material. “You cannot be Governor and be humble and nice to everybody”, she said to me. No iota of pride or self. So I began to get interested in Pastor Umo Eno after Idongesit’s political conversion. Umo Eno is indeed an enigma, they say if you meet him his meekness is infectious. Not a whiff of pretence. Everybody knows, including members of the opposition in Akwa Ibom State, that Governor Udom got this one right. I believe Pastor Umo Eno is going to change how Nigerian leaders relate with the people. They say he even addresses his male staff as ‘Sir’. The nation needs a leader who will act as the matrix that will give rise to a new leadership culture. On his vision for the State, I must confess I was at first wary of Pastor Umo Eno because Nigerian governors are known for their superlative promises with very little on delivery, not Pastor Umo Eno, I hear. This man is Akwa Ibom State’s most successful entrepreneur in the tourism and entertainment industry. And yes he is a Pastor. He has an investment track record with proven results, followed by an impressive resume with corporations like Exxon Mobil. His dream is to turn Akwa Ibom State into Nigeria’s, ‘Tourism and Entrepreneurial Haven’, competing toe-to-toe with Lagos State for clientele and business. But I am also aware Pastor Umo Eno is facing persecution from a group of political gladiators in the State. Politicians who have told all manner of lies against him. Maybe it is time people heard the whole truth. There is a saying that the witness of an outsider is more believable than the owners of the house. Therefore permit this Yoruba man to give you his own perspective about Pastor Umo-Eno and the atomistic crucible he has been put through to emerge the new incoming State Governor.

Exposing A Dangerous Falsehood

A very interesting drama is unfolding at the Governorship tribunal seating in Uyo, the YPP Governorship candidate Senator Obong Bassey Albert (OBA) has suffered a major setback as his allegation of certificate forgery and university expulsion levelled against the Governor-elect Pastor Umo Eno has been torn to shreds. OBA’s legal team tendered a 2005 list before the tribunal purportedly showing that Pastor Umo Eno had been expelled from the University of Uyo for certificate forgery. But immediately the list was tendered in evidence, a brochure of the 2004 convocation from the same university surfaced online. The brochure has gone viral and has completely obliterated the petition of the YPP legal team because it has exposed the putrefied falsehood. This brochure is about to be tendered at the tribunal. There is now incontrovertible evidence that Pastor Umo Eno was a student in the 1998-2004 set of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, University of Uyo. And that he graduated in 2004. The brochure also revealed his younger sister Eno, Inemesit Bassey was in the same set and her name appears just above his name on the brochure. The list also revealed some interesting names who are ready to testify before the tribunal to confirm its authenticity. In the list are the names of the member-elect, Ibiono Ibom State Constituency, Mr Moses Essien and the current Commissioner for Transport Akwa Ibom State, Mr Uno Etim Uno. Included also is one Mr Eminue, Eyo Okon who describes himself as a corporate customer care specialist on his facebook wall. He was at the time in 2004 the Student Union President of the University of Uyo and he has come online to say Umo Eno was a student in his department. But these are not the only names, there are hundreds of former students in this list who will testify before the tribunal that Pastor Umo Eno was their colleague in the University of Uyo. But here is where it gets even more bizarre and convoluted for the YPP legal team. And this indicates they might soon drop the case and embrace reconciliation and peace. They claim Umo Eno was expelled in 2005 but the brochure that has just surfaced indicates Umo Eno graduated in 2004. The question people are asking is, how could Pastor Umo Eno who they falsely alleged was expelled in 2005, how could he have been expelled in 2005 when he had graduated a year earlier in 2004? In Yoruba folklore the Tortoise is the craftiest of all the creatures in the forest but sometimes we Yorubas depict him as being too crafty to the point of foolishness. This is what I see in Senator OBA’s case. Is someone trying to make a fool of Senator OBA? Has his legal team been duped by paying for a fake document that never existed? How did the YPP legal team come to its false conclusions of certificate forgery and university expulsion? I will tell you how.

The Doctrine Of Double Jeopardy

Sometimes I think I know more about the political affairs of my adopted State than the indigenes themselves. Permit me to go through the details of this case. Senator Albert Bassey had alleged that Pastor Umo Eno had presented a fake West African Examination Council (WAEC)/Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination Certificate (SSCE) and had subsequently been caught in the act and expelled from the University of Uyo. But this fake forgery WAEC story by Senator OBA’s legal team was not new, what was new was the purported expulsion. Please note that the false allegation of forgery levelled against Pastor Umo Eno at the tribunal is the same case that Mr Akan Okon brought before the Supreme Court in appeal number SC/CV/172/2023. It was also the same case Mr Akan Okon brought before the Federal High Court and the Court of Appeal, and lost. The Supreme Court dismissed the false allegations and held that Pastor Umo Eno was duly nominated by his Party the PDP on May 25, 2022 and that he was eminently qualified for the elections. The Supreme Court adopted the judgements of the two lower courts;

(1) The Supreme Court held that all the claims of certificate forgery by Mr Akan Okon were based on assumptions and speculations.

(2) The Court threw out all the documents Mr Akan Okon tendered as Pastor Umo Eno’s academic records from the University of Uyo because they were not certified true copies as required by Section 84 of the evidence act.

(3) The Court rejected the witness of a forensic expert hired by Mr Akan Okon because the process of getting the photograph processed and transmitted lacked foundational evidence.

(4) The Court found it incredulous that Mr Akan Okon’s primary source of information about Umo Eno’s false forgery allegation was taken from a group known as Movement for the Advancement of Democracy in Nigeria, a group which he Akan Okon was not a member. This group claimed to have received a document purportedly issued to it by WAEC.

(5) The Court upheld that the evidence of the witnesses from the West African Examinations Council affirmed Pastor Umo Eno’s WAEC certificates as authentic.

(6) As a result of the reputational damage on Pastor Umo Eno the Court directed Mr Akan Okon to pay Pastor Umo Eno and other defendants in the case N5m as damages for his false allegations.

It is important to note here, that the Supreme Court of Nigeria, the highest court of the land, acquitted Pastor Umo Eno on 23rd February 2023. The lawyers hired by Senator OBA were aware of this acquittal, they were also well aware of the doctrine of Double Jeopardy, which stops a person who has been acquitted of an offence to be retried for that same offence – this risk of retrial is known as Double Jeopardy. In Nigeria, the principle of Double Jeopardy gains statutory power from the provision of section 36(9) and (10) of the 1999 constitution. There are two principles arising from Common Law which prevents this. The first is known by the legal terms, autrefois acquit and autrefois convict. These principles provide a bar to the trial, in respect of the same offence, of a person who has previously been either acquitted or convicted of that offence. In addition, the courts may consider it an abuse of process for additional charges to be brought, following an acquittal or conviction, for different offences which arose from the same behaviour or set of facts. But there are exceptions to this doctrine and those exceptions are that the petitioner must show compelling and new evidence subsequently coming to light against the acquitted person, new witnesses to the offence coming forward or a new document. And this was exactly what Senator OBA’s legal team hoped to achieve, they thought that by smuggling a fake document purported to have come from the University of Uyo they could revive the false WAEC certificate forgery case which the Supreme Court had dismissed in February 23rd 2023. Senator Bassey Albert’s legal team therefore presented a false document at the tribunal, a purported false senate expulsion list from the University of Uyo dated 10th February 2005. It has also been alleged in political circles that two old foes have become friends of necessity in this clandestine project, Mr Akan Okon, the initial inventor of the false certificate forgery allegation, himself a former Governorship aspirant has teamed up with Senator OBA to fight the Governor-elect Pastor Umo Eno at the tribunal. From all indication it appears this OBA Akan Okon tag team might be running out of steam. I suggest they embrace Pastor Umo Eno’s reconciliation and not stay shackled to the atomistic spirit which will only toss and buffet them in an ocean of a lost cause.

Evidence And The People’s Truth

Unfortunately what the YPP legal team did not anticipate was the backlash, disgust and anger that would greet the forged senate expulsion list. The barefaced fabrication has upset former lecturers and course mates of Pastor Umo Eno in the department of Political Science and Business Administration. His alumni have risen up as a body in his defence. This is the body that dug up the University of Uyo 2004 graduation brochure led by Mr Eminue, Eyo Okon a former Student Union President. The brochure has been posted online for the world to see and it clearly and unequivocally states, “BSc Political Science & Public Administration, Second Class (Honours) Lower Division”. And tucked among the names in the Honours Lower Division roll at number 17 (if one is counting) is the name Umoh, Eno Bassey, boldly written on the left hand side of the brochure in black and white. This piece of evidence from the University of Uyo has dealt a devastating blow on the manufactured falsehood by Senator OBA’s YPP legal team. Even the current Head of Department of Political Science at the University of Uyo, Professor Basil Onuoha who has been Pastor Umo Eno’s lecturer at BSc, MSc and PhD levels expressed his horror at the blatant falsehood against his student. He and many others will be on hand to testify before the tribunal he is reported to have said, “Umo Eno is my student. He did his first degree, masters and now he is in his PhD programme. He has finished his coursework with excellent records and started his thesis”. The Professor also added that the alleged expulsion is an invention in the imagination of its fabricators.

When A Lie Travels Halfway Around The World

In-fact the entire web of lies and accusations defies common-sense, fact and logic. For the benefit of the doubt, how could a student be so brazen to seek re-admission to study for a post-graduate course from the same department where he had allegedly been expelled, using the same name? Surely if he has been expelled wouldn’t it make more sense to forge a new name in-order to disappear under the radar? And if for example he was able to successfully hoodwink everyone with false documentation wouldn’t the academic staff and his former lecturers recognise him? And why is nobody else crowing about this alleged forgery and expulsion from the University of Uyo? No lecturers, no former classmates, no administrative staff, not even the University Senate. OBA’s legal team must know what nobody else in the University of Uyo knows. One can only describe it as the dizzying height of desperation and petition banditry the extent the purveyors of this lost cause are willing to go in-order to discredit Pastor Umo Eno and the good name of the University of Uyo. A petition written by a faceless group recently surfaced online. It accused the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Uyo of trying to shield Pastor Umo Eno, a man the Governor- elect does not know. Please note:
(1) The purported senate expulsion list has no University reference or serial number and there is no copy of it in the University records.
(2) The group behind the petition has no name.
(3) The names behind the petition are just as fake as the faceless group. And it is just as well because if the University of Uyo knew their identities they would probably be sued by the University of Uyo. How desperately low can the opposition get? It was Lenin who famously said, “A lie told often enough becomes the truth”. And Charles Spurgeon added, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while truth is putting on its shoes”.
But this lie against Pastor Umo Eno has come full circle and must come to its ignoble end.

Amalinze The Cat, A Metaphor

In Chinua Achebe’s classic novel, “Things Fall Apart” the protagonist Okonkwo becomes famous by throwing down Amalinze the cat, a man whose back had never touched the ground according to local legend. But it didn’t come easy for Okonkwo, he had to defeat many other great wrestlers. Perhaps no other gubernatorial candidate in the country has had to face these number of political titans, from Hon. Micheal Enyong, Obong Akan Udofia, Mr Akan Okon. And Pastor Umo Eno, a new comer has thrown all these political gladiators down, 90% of the cases have gone all the way up to the Supreme Court. And finally Senator OBA is that Amalinze, the metaphor of a man who has never suffered political defeat until now. OBA is the political prodigy of former Governor Akpabio. It was even rumoured that his former boss had such deep respect for his student’s abilities that to avoid a political confrontation with OBA in 2015 over the gubernatorial ambition of his successor Udom Emmanuel, Akpabio ceded the Uyo Senatorial Seat to OBA, a position he had originally reserved for his former SSG Umana Okon Umana. It is this Amalinze that Umo Eno threw down in March 2023 during the gubernatorial elections in Akwa Ibom State. Pastor Umo Eno polled 356,348 votes, against OBA’s 136,262; a yawning gap of 220,086 votes. It will be difficult to overturn this result. This explains why OBA’s legal team is trying to resuscitate the false and dead WAEC forgery case championed by Mr Akan Okon but dismissed by the Supreme Court of Nigeria. In Things Fall Apart, Amalinze the cat accepts his defeat with grace and reserved for himself a respectable place in the annals of Umuofia’s history. Senator OBA and Mr Akan Okon are great sons of Akwa Ibom State it is my hope that they embrace reconciliation and peace. I heard Pastor Umo Eno say the other day that elections are over, let us like good brothers work together both friend and foe to build a great and visionary future for Akwa Ibom State.

The Ibom Atomistic Society

In 1978 it was one of my kinsmen, the former Vice Chancellor of the University Calabar, Prof. E. A Ayandele, in a speech in trying to respond to the protests and petitions that followed the appointment of Professors from Oron; O. E. Uya, S. M. Essang, and U. K. Enyenihi, who described the Ibibios and the Efiks as, “An atomistic society that is perpetually at war with itself.” That atomistic society with its never ending self perpetuating war has raised its ugly head again in this petition filed at the governorship election tribunal in Uyo. Why is a Yoruba man taking a keen interest in Akwa Ibom State, you might ask? Apart from the fact that I have friends and in-laws from Akwa State. I have long recognised Akwa Ibom State as Nigeria’s wealthiest bride. Akwa Ibom State is the state, with the largest crude oil reserve in Nigeria accounting for over 30% of the total oil produced daily, followed by Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa, Ondo, Edo and Imo states. Therefore the Governor of Akwa Ibom State is first among equals and shares the same political status with the Governors of Lagos, Rivers, Kaduna and Kano States but because the Akwa Ibom people are not a naturally aggressive people, their economic contribution is largely ignored and they are not given a fair slice in appointments and positions at the centre. Imagine if the oil wealth of Akwa Ibom State was situated in my region the South West or the South East. I have no doubt we would have fought several wars in Nigeria over it. Make no mistake about it, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State is a very powerful position and I speak as a Yoruba man. It is therefore not surprising to see these titanic battles taking place in the Supreme Court and the election tribunal in Uyo. The next Governor of Akwa Ibom State, will by proxy sit on over 30% of Nigeria’s oil revenue in his backyard and collect a whopping 13% rent fee, called the 13% derivation. Nigeria cannot afford to ignore such a leader.

Governor Udom’s Wisdom

Funny enough none of the men wrestling to wrest the Governorship from Pastor Umo Eno dislike him, it is his boss Governor Udom they are after. They all say Governor Udom will manipulate the system and run for a third term through Pastor Umo Eno. So far the outgoing Governor has shown nothing but the utmost respect towards his successor and there is nothing in Governor Udom’s demeanour or recent appointments that have revealed he intends to become a puppet master. Governor Udom is a wise man, here is one Nigerian Governor who resisted the temptation to run for Senate, if he had wanted to control and manipulate his successor he would have gone to Abuja. These men have nothing to fear. People are already saying Pastor Umo Eno
might turn out to be Governor Udom’s greatest achievement.

Pastor Umo Eno Must Persevere To Victory

Former members of the opposition both PDP and APC who have taken hold of Umo Eno’s reconciliatory arm have come forward to say he is a different kind of politician; polite, compassionate with an easy going forgiving personality. They say he refers to everyone as ‘Sir’ including his gateman. A very cultured gentleman with a creative eagle eye for Human Capital Development, Entrepreneurship and Tourism. And though Pastor Umo Eno has gone through these crucible of lies he says he holds no malice. Perhaps it is time people took Pastor Umo Eno’s hand of fellowship and not shackle themselves to Professor Ayandele’s atomistic prophecy. A golden age beckons and Nigeria’s richest region is about to fulfil the dream of its progenitors. Truly Nigeria’s Land of Promise has found a servant leader. I am predicting the South West will be willing partners in Akwa Ibom State’s great and golden reawakening.

“Ubee eese l’use, onen yo gbe jake oun o se l’use i”. My people say a good beginning is of no value unless one perseveres to the end. Meaning, He who perseveres to the end will be rewarded. I wish Pastor Umo Eno well as he takes over the reins of Akwa Ibom State from 29th of May 2023. Destiny beckons on us all. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Dr Akanji Odunaike is a Current Affairs Analyst from Lagos State.

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