George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
The Speaker of the Imo State House of Assembly, Chiji Collins, has said that he is not under any threat of impeachment by a mere allegation by a hungry man.
This is as he has challenged those who have alleged that his degrees were fake including Hon Lawman Duruji to give ahead and verify them.
The former member representing Ehime Mbano state constituency in the Imo State House of Assembly, Lawman Duruji had alleged that the degree certificates of the Imo Speaker including his National Youth Service Corps exemption certificate were forged.
Speaking to journalists in Owerri, Duruji accused Chiji of parading forged certificates and challenged him to make public, certificates that justify his educational claims.
The ex-lawmaker, who was sacked by the Appeal Court as a member representing Ehime Mbano last November, called on the House of Assembly to probe the speaker’s certificates.
He said: “One big mistake made by the former governor of the state, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha was the imposition of Chiji Collins as Speaker, even when it was clear he has some skeleton in his cupboard. Quote me, he (Chiji) parades fake credentials – his PhD is fake and he also forged NYSC exemption certificate.
“He claimed to have graduated with HND in 1981 when he was 24 years old and took an exemption from NYSC. At 24 years old, was he entitled to exemption letter from the NYSC? Who exempted him from participating in the National Service Scheme? What does the NYSC Act say about exemption? Why has he refused to honour NYSC invitation to Abuja with the Clerk of the House?
“Why has he refused to publish his certificate for public scrutiny? Can someone obtain a PhD without a first degree or masters degree? These are some of the questions that Chiji Collins must answer, no amount of delay tactics and intimidation can save him this time.”
Duruji also accused the speaker of lobbying to persuade the committee set up to investigate his certificates status, to avert justice on the issue.
He insisted that such attempts would not save him from the impending impeachment.
However, reacting to the allegation the Imo state Speaker, he said he was not threatened by any antics of ‘ layabouts ‘
The speaker, who spoke with journalists weekend, dismissed as a whole matter as childish rants, noting that the former lawmaker had petitioned the Code of Conduct Bureau without achieving any results.
He said: “My position is not shaken because I have not taken anybody’s money. My certificates have been in the public domain since 1992 when I contested for Imo North Senate seat.
“I’m not one of those persons who claim to be graduates without classmates. The university I attended, people from my constituency and Imo State are still there. So, any inquiry anyone needs, let the person apply to the school. It’s not hidden.”
Continuing, he said: “Again, I never schooled in Nigeria. I schooled overseas for my first degree and second degree and up to PhD. There’s no law in Nigeria that states that immediately you complete your first degree, you return home to participate in youth service.
“If Duruji is saying that the certificates I tendered are fake, he should bring the original one. If he says I forged certificates, he should go to court and prove his case. He cannot be asking me to tender my certificates.
“When this story emerged last year, I staked $100,000 for anyone that will prove that my certificates are fake. And I still maintain it because nobody has come out since that time”, the speaker said.