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Fresh Petition Details How Buhari’s Minister Timipre Sylva Forged Certificates, Used Stolen Identity

Chief Timipre Sylva

Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva

THE governorship election quest of Timipre Sylva, who resigned last week as President Muhammadu Buhari’s minister of state for petroleum, is hanging by a thread following evidence-laced allegations of falsified credentials and stolen identities levelled against him before the Senate.

Mr Sylva also filed processes to change his name to Timipre Sylva in an official Nigerian government gazette of May 12, 2022, apparently after learning that his identity infractions could put his governorship ambition in jeopardy, the petition said.

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Before seeking to change his name in an official gazette, Mr Sylva had already served as Bayelsa governor between 2007 and 2012 and also minister of state for petroleum resources, among other top-level state and federal positions.

The latest forgery and identity theft accusations were enumerated in a petition filed by Timi Frank, former publicity secretary of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), and sent to Senate President Ahmad Lawan, was prayed to summon Mr Sylva and officials from his alma maters in Nigeria and Switzerland to explain the inconsistencies in the identity of the politician.

The petition, dated March 31, 2023, and shared with Peoples Gazette, said Mr Sylva’s primary school certificate carried his name as Anagha Timipere. He filed the documents before a court in the United States as part of an ongoing defamation suit brought by his lawyers.

But Anagha Timipere was different from Marlin Anagha Timipre, which was the name Mr Sylva had on his WAEC certificate.

Similarly, the ex-petroleum minister had also obtained his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Port-Harcourt, with the certificate bearing Anagha Timipre Marlin.

This again contradicted Mr Sylva’s 2011 doctoral degree in International Relations Ubis University, Switzerland, which was awarded to Chief Timipre Sylva.

“Obviously, the certificates mentioned above have visible anomalies and do not depict the true identity of CHIEF TIMPRE SYLVA. It is confusing as to who CHIEF TIMIPRE SYLVA is; who ANAGHA TIMIPRE MARLIN is; who MARLIN ANAGHA TIMIPRE is and who ANAGHA TIMIPERE is,” according to Mr Frank’s petition, which was received on April 4, 2023, at the Senate.

It was also noted that Mr Sylva neither participated in the mandatory one-year National Youth Service Corps nor did he obtain an exemption certificate using any of the aforementioned names.

Further complicating the matter was the absence or lack of a supporting document to show the former petroleum minister ever changed any of the aforementioned names to his present name.

“There is no evidence anywhere showing that CHIEF TIMPRE SYLVA ever changed his name from ANAGHA TIMIPRE MARLIN to TIMIPRE SYLVA in 1986 after he purportedly graduated from University of Port Harcourt,” stated the petition.

“Investigation by our client reveals that there is also no record that the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources has National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Discharge or Exemption Certificate, as the case may be, either in the name of ANAGHA TIMIPRE MARLIN or TIMIPRE SYLVA,” stressed the document.

The discrepancies in the document caused the petitioner to assert that Mr Sylva most likely forged his academic certificates or had them stolen from a third party, an offence that violates Section 438 of the Criminal Code Act and carries a 14-year prison sentence.

Mr Frank urged the Senate to summon INEC, CCB, and SSS officials for their roles in screening and approving Mr Sylva’s ministerial appointment as well as his successful governorship bid in 2007.

Additionally, the petitioner prayed the Senate to summon Mr Sylva and officials from all the learning institutions that issued him a certificate to confirm the actual identity of who they awarded the academic certificate.

The institutions include Ajeromi Central School in Apapa, Lagos, WAEC office, University of Port-Harcourt and Ubis University, Switzerland.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian Immigration Service, through the Senate, was asked to seize Mr Sylva’s international passport to prevent him from fleeing the country and seeking refuge in Western nations like U.S., Canada and so on.

As the law demands, Mr Sylva willfully resigned from the Muhammadu Buhari regime last month to pursue his governorship ambition in Bayelsa. The APC has scheduled governorship primaries for April 14, 2023.

But the spectre of forgery and impersonation could imperil Mr Sylva’s ambition, as witnessed in the case of David Lyon, an APC governorship candidate in Bayelsa, whose election victory was annulled in 2019 due to the discrepancies in the name of his running mate, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo.

Mr Sylva did not immediately respond to messages seeking comments on the matter. But he had previously dismissed concerns about his records as coming from his political detractors.

Mr Sylva touted himself as arguably the most popular governor among Bayelsa residents, expressing confidence in his acceptance by the people to propel his return to the Government House in Yenagoa, which was truncated when the Supreme Court sacked him from office in January 2012.

Mr Sylva was among Nigerian politicians exposed by The Gazette for taking millions of dollars in bribes to downplay the crucial host communities clause in the recently-adopted petroleum industry law. He has avoided taking questions about his role in the bribery scandal.

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