Award winning investigative journalist, Fisayo Soyombo has reacted to the certificate forgery travails trailing the Finance minister, Adeosun.
Photoshopped picture of Finance Minister, Kemi Adeosun
You cannot but feel sorry for Finance Minister Kemi Adeosun if, like me, you want more women in politics and public offices, or if, also like me, you think she has a personable personality.
You’ll feel this way if you liked her before Friday when Premium Times published the first of two investigations that exposed how the legislature had been blackmailing her to release funds to them because they got something on her, and how she skipped NYSC and then forged an exemption certificate.
You’ll feel sorry for her if, like me, intuition tells you she’s probably not the worst person in President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet — if you’re guessing the skeleton in her cupboard is probably the smallest compared to those of other cabinet members. You will surely feel sorry for her if, as a journalist, you can deduce that PT couldn’t have got this big story without a tipoff from an insider — someone who knew Adeosun’s past so well or dug it out so desperately. You know someone has an axe to grind.
You won’t want to be too hard on her if you can smell the role of fate in this — how she started her career in the UK probably thinking she would never return to work in Nigeria, and how the fate that landed her in Nigeria was tinged with desperation to grab the opportunities, in politics particularly, that came her way.
Unfortunately — and this cannot be argued — all these points are mere sentiments. Something else that cannot be argued is that forgery is a criminal offence. Section 463 of the Criminal Code provides for three years in prison or forgery, while Sections 362 to 364 of the Penal Code prescribe 14 years in prison with option of fine or both. Being a public officer who has taken oath of office at least twice, alongside this forgery comes perjury, another criminal offence. Adeosun’s offences can’t be dismissed with a wave of the hand; they are very serious!
A few people have asked if this story is true or not but I’m yet to see a Nigerian public official who was falsely accused of forgery; it is one of those crimes that only come to public through ‘an ant eating the vegetable and is perched right on the vegetable’; it is one of the commonest crimes in Nigeria, and it is one that can be easily investigated. You can tell PT (Premium Times) did its homework very well.
The honourable thing to do will be for Adeosun to resign. If she did that, she would have regained a bit of the honour she has lost in the last few days. But then, this is Nigeria where public officers don’t walk away from jobs — plus the Minister may be thinking she’d hand victory over to her traducers by resigning.
It will be interesting how Buhari handles it. Baba is likely to look the other way. Unfortunately, this would burden him with an extra baggage ahead of the 2019 elections, the kind of albatross that Stella Oduah constituted to Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election ambition ahead of 2015.
Many of the social-media commentaries I’ve seen on the matter have been silent on one important item of this matter: who are the lawmakers who blackmailed the Minister into releasing funds to them? Blackmail, like extortion, is a criminal offence.
Therefore, these ‘lawbreakers’ must not be allowed to go scot-free. The proper thing will be for Adeosun to go down, but we must drag along all those who unduly profited from her indiscretion.