The Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Professor Ibrahim Garba, has cleared the air on whether or not Senator Dino Melaye graduated from the institution.
Appearing before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions on Monday, the Vice Chancellor said Melaye graduated from the institution as Daniel Jonah Melaye with a degree in Geography from the Faculty of Arts.
According to him, Melaye graduated with 3rd class and did his one year compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) between 2000 and 2001 in Kaduna State.
An online media, Saharareporters, had published a story that the Kogi State-born lawmaker did not graduate from the institution as he claimed in his records, a report that prompted the Senate to mandate its committee to probe into the allegations.
Melaye has also filed a suit in court against the publishers of the story demanding N5billion in damages.
Professor Garba confirmed that Melaye earned a degree in Geography from the Faculty of Arts in 2000.
Appearing before the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions on Wednesday, the Vice Chancellor, said Melaye graduated from the institution as Daniel Jonah Melaye with a 3rd class degree in Geography.
As at when the proceedings started, the petitioner, Senator Ndume, was not on ground. Clerk of the committee, Freedom Osolo, said Ndume could not be reached. He said phone calls made to his mobile phone number were not answered. He also claimed that letters of invitation were sent to him.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, corroborated the claim and said he spoke with Ndume on Sunday, who promised to be on ground to defend his allegations against the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and Dino Melaye.
Melaye took an oath at about 1.27pm. Opening the business of the day by responding to a question from Senator Anyanwu, Melaye explained that he graduated from the ABU.
Tendering different certificates to substantiate his claims, Melaye said he graduated in 2000, though he said he was offered an admission in 1994. He said as at when he was offered admission, Geography was domiciled in the Faculty of Arts.
He said: “I am a graduate of Ahmadu Bello University. I gained admission on the 6th of September, 1994 to study a degree in Geography, Faculty of Arts. After my graduation, the school sent my name to the NYSC in Kaduna, where I did my national service. I even won an award. The documents are here.
“What I have on my certificates is Jonah Daniel Melaye. I went to court to take an oath and did change of name. I am stating this under oath. I have an admission to study a masters degree in International Relations. I have an admission letter to study another masters degree.
“As I speak to you, I have not collected my original certificate from the university. Even as I speak, I have not collected my certificate of WAEC. What I declared missing was the statement of result and not the certificate. What I have with the National Assembly records is Daniel. That is why I will survive this lion’s den.
Explaining that the essence of the probe was to clear the air, Senator Tayo Alaosoadura, said the issue is raising dust because Senator Melaye changed his name from Daniel Jonah Melaye to Dino Melaye.
“Those who are alleging are doing this because they believe you may not be the same person as Jonah Melaye,” he said.
Senator Anyanwu, adding his voice, said: “What is important is that you have your first degree and not whether you have masters. If we go through it, we can then call the Vice Chancellor of the university to confirm or deny. We have listened to you. We will also listen to the person who alleged. The practice is that a Senator should be tried secretly. But we decided to make it open in order to give the public the right impression that we have nothing to hide.
“We do not want you to be embarrassed by this whole thing or the fact that the media is here to cover it. We will also bring the Senate President here to respond to the allegations.”
The questioning of the Vice Chancellor, Professor Garba, kicked off at about 1.42pm. He was administered an oath at about 1.45pm.
He responded briefly to a question from Senator Anyanwu on whether Melaye graduated from his institution or not.
The Vice Chancellor said: “From the records, I know Senator Dino Melaye who was formally known as Daniel Jonah Melaye. He was a former student of the university. Yes, he graduated. From the records, Melaye graduated in the year 2000. I reaffirm that he graduated during the 1998-1999 session with a third class degree in Geography from the Faculty of Arts.”
Ndume came into the investigative hearing room at about 1.48. He took oath of office at about 1.51, just about the same time the Vice Chancellor left the hearing room.
Immediately Ndume was administered his oath, he came under fire, when lawmakers started attacking him. He was questioned by lawmakers who sought to know why he decided to ridicule the Senate.
Ndume fought back and insisted that he did not write any petition, but only raised a point of order to draw the attention of the Senate to a newspaper publication.
He said: “I did not petition. I only raised a point of order. That is Order 14 and 15. That is, when an issue about a lawmaker comes up, we have the right to bring it up. I made a request. The decision to bring this case before this committee is not my doing. It was the decision of the Senate. I did not expect that it will generate this kind of attention.
“I came here with my own certificate. I was here when the Vice Chancellor said that Melaye graduated from the school in 1999. I do not know how you can graduate in 2000, but went for your NYSC in 1999. I do not understand.”
Anyanwu retorted and said: “You said you did not write any petition, but only raised a point of order. Did you as a Senator do any due diligence before you brought the case before the Senate?”
Ndume, again reacted: “That is not my job. That is the job of the committee. I only raised a point of order. I am not Punch Newspaper and I did not write this report.”
Senator Peter Nwaoboshi stepped in at this time and added his voice. He said: “When you make such a serious allegation, you must back it up. Let me read the discharge certificate of his NYSC to you. That is the certificate.”
Not ready to cave in, Ndume maintained: “I raised a point of order and it was referred to this committee. You have showed me the certificate and it has resolved the problem. It is not personal. If there is anything against the integrity of the Senate, it is our duty to clear it. What is the big deal.
Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Bala Na’Allah, who doubles as vice chairman of the Ethics committee explained more: “Is not about the procedure or the contents of the complaints. You are aware that you are a former Leader of the Senate. You are aware that the public, having formed an opinion, based on what you presented, that we clear this whole thing? I am sure we have cleared your mind since you have seen the discharge certificate. What will be your conclusion when you leave here?
Ndume reacted: “Let me add that I called the attention of the Senate because I feel it is my responsibility to do that. I did not do it in isolation. It has happened before. It cannot be swept under the carpet. He has presented everything. What more do I have to say? What I did was to protect the integrity of the Senate.”
Ndume left the hearing room at about 2.44pm.
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