By Kelechi Ugo
The days of the present Speaker of Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Chiji Collins as the state’s number one lawmaker may be numbered as the immediate past member for Ehime Mbano State Constituency in the House, and former Speaker of the House, Rt. Hon. Lawman Duruji has vowed to leave no stone unturned to ensurer that the court arraigns the Speaker any moment from now if he further declines to make his controversial certificates public.
It would be recalled that Hon. Lawman Duruji was one of the vibrant lawmakers of the 8th House who returned second time in the present House and was later ousted by the Appeal Court in the last quarter of 2019.
Before his ouster, Hon. Duruji was the House Committee Chairman on Security and Intelligence and also member House Committee on Ethics and Privileges.
In an interaction with newsmen over the weekend, Rt Hon. Lawman Duruji noted that it is an aberration and discredit to the present government in Imo State led by His Excellency, Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodinma to condone someone who parades questionable credentials to preside over the affairs of the State Legislature adding that it makes a caricature and nonsense of the whole fight against corruption in the State. Lawman said ” why should Chiji, preside over the House that makes laws which empower the government to fight crime with questionable credentials. How can he offer one hundred thousand dollars as bounty? That’s fraudulent, where did he get the money from?”
He recalled that on the inauguration of the Nineth House, the former Governor Ihedioha insisted on imposing Chiji Collins on the House for which he (Duruji)was asked to nominate Chiji Collins for speakership position alleging that Chiji Collins gave him a fake citation which he unsuspectedly read on the floor of the House where he(Collins) claimed to be a lecturer and Associate Professor in one of the Universities in United States of America and also claimed to have obtained a PhD from a foreign University. The former lawmaker insisted that Chiji Collins misled Imolites and the unsuspecting public, revealing that the records of his frivolous claims are there for All to see.
Duruji told newsman that petitions against Chiji Collins’s credentials started flooding Imo House of Assembly immediately he emerged the Speaker of the House and became a public figure. According to him, “the Speaker was not comfortable with the development, a situation that prompted him to ignore the House rules and constituted an adhoc committee to investigate his credentials instead of allowing Ethics and Privileges Committee which is in total violation of the standing order of the House. He constituted a committee made up his foot soldiers with an express instruction not to proceed with the investigation after inauguration. This standing order to suffocate the committee was endorsed by the then Governor Emeka Ihedioha who planned to use the certificates scandal to keep the Speaker in check and cripple the leadership of the House.
From facts available in INEC form CF 001 filled under oath Chili Collins had claimed that he was born on 27th October, 1957 and obtained his HND in 1981. That’s to say that he graduated at the age of 24. Why was he exempted? Who exempted him? What does the Act says about exemption? Who issued the exemption certificate he parades? The fact is that he evaded National Service, and it’s a crime punishable by the law. Chiji Collins owes the country service so he is not qualified to preside over the affairs of the House. Someone can go to court to challenge the Laws so enacted during his tenure. Because in the eyes of the Law he is impersonating and that’s a serious crime”.
“Recall that against the backdrop of his claims in a recent interview he granted, the committee headed by Hon Chigozie Nwaneri confirmed that the committee has not been able to lay their hands on the certificates or locate the school six months after inauguration. Is that not sufficient enough to show that the purported University does not exist.
NYSC has invited him to appear before its panel of enquiry,but he refused to honour the invitation. The agency also wrote to the Clerk of the House recently threatening to arrest him before the lockdown.
Recently, Chiji Collins has expunged his accclaimed Associate professors from his profile, but the records of the inauguration are there. As I speak I know the enormous powers and privileges that a Speaker enjoys. I also know that the office and it’s occupants deserve undiluted respect and Honor. But I can tell you that Chiji Collins is not honest and doesn’t have the right stance to occupy speakership office. I dare him to summon me to the House to prove the allegations against him. I can tell you that this man has a lot of skeleton in his cupboard. He can call me unprintable names no worries but he must face the full weight of the Law. Anybody that impersonates is a criminal. I have written to the committee to avail me a time but they appear undecided”, Duruji added. He therefore pointed that the issue of certificates scandal bothers on the integrity of every public office holder urging House members to ask Chiji Collins to temporarily step aside so that investigation into his unending certificate scandal can be conducted without fear or favour. “Chiji Collins cannot be a judge in his own matter. He should step outside until the investigation is completed. He claimes that he obtained PhD in one of the Italian Universities which never existed. I challenge Rt. Hon. Chiji Collins to publish his credentials which will enable Imolites Google and unearth the truth instead of engaging media practitioners as a cover up for his certificate short fall by using faceless individuals to orchestrate fallacious publications against him”, Duruji concluded.