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  • Soyinka Challenges Critics Disputing His Academic Records To Bring Evidence
  •  Prof. Wole Soyinka

    The Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka has given individuals who are disputing his academic credentials a 30-day deadline to present proof of their claims to the appropriate Nigerian investigating organisations.

    From 1954 to 1957, Soyinka studied at Leeds University, where he graduated with honours in English literature.

    After finishing his studies, he remained in the city and wrote his first two significant plays, The Swamp Dwellers and The Lion and the Jewel. He subsequently moved to London and worked as a play reader for the Royal Court Theatre until leaving again for Nigeria in 1960.

    A previous report had resurfaced online, wherein a certain James Gibbs, a professor, was said to have disputed that Soyinka graduated with a first-class degree from Leeds University.

    In a statement on Friday titled “A moral call to amoral conscripts”, the Nobel laureate said if the allegations are proven to be true, he would strip himself of the honours and achievements he has garnered in his writing career.

    He said peddlers of the allegations should submit any document that can prove their claims to the directorates of prosecutions, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

    “Duly modified to suit a debased internet culture, it is making its grimy rounds ironically under the auspices of a democratic political party, supposedly dedicated to an ethos of freedom of opinion and expression,” Soyinka writes.

    “The contents of that script are attributed, as before, to the scholastic industry of a Bristol schoolteacher.

    The celebrated writer said he is awaiting his lawyer on whether or not to take legal action against those behind the allegations.

    “I wish to state in advance that I voluntarily waive all protection under the statute of limitations, and insist that the laws that govern fraudulent academic claims be invoked and applied to these allegations to the uttermost limit,” he said.

    “I also declare, in advance that, if found culpable, I shall strip myself of any titles and honours I may have garnered in my entire career, from the most obscure to the most coveted.

    “In return, I expect the purveyors of this sordid material to submit all evidence, however minuscule, to the nation’s investigative agencies – Directorates of Prosecutions, EFCC, ICPC, plus affected institutions and others – within the next thirty days.

    “Failing this elementary service in public interest within the stated time, and/or If such allegations are yet again proven baseless, thus indicating that their sponsors can boast of neither honours to their careers nor honour to their births and origins, then, as a token of moral recompense, they should undertake to jump off the bridge of the symbolic River Niger, provided with life jackets, to ensure a life of remorse after this ritual purgation, but chained to one another in a commendable unity of purpose.”

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