BREAKING NEWS: Mbah criticises the petition of Edeoga as the parties adopt final written addresses.

Governor Peter Mbah

From Jude Chinedu, Enugu

Governor of Enugu State and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Dr. Peter Mbah, yesterday, picked holes in allegations of forgery of his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) discharge certificate, over-voting, and falsification of results. CONTINUE READING>>>>>

This is as the governorship candidate of Labour Party, Chijioke Edeoga, expressed confidence in the ability of the tribunal to deliver resounding judgement based on facts presented by his lawyers.

In adopting his final written address before the Justice M.K Akano-led tribunal, Mbah through his counsels led by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), described the petitioner’s reliance of NYSC discharge certificate as of “no moment.”

Mbah’s lawyers held that not only should the issue of NYSC discharge certificate not have arisen in the first place since it is neither a qualification for the position of governor as listed in Section 177 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) nor an educational qualification, which could be considered as a document required in aid of qualification, the petitioners also failed to prove a case of forgery against him…… Continue Your Reading

“The fact that NYSC certificate is not a requirement for contesting election to the office of governor is one that has been judicially settled. And in this regard, we refer your Lordships to the Court of Appeal decision in Obi-Odu v. Duke (2005). The gross and net effect of the legal reality that NYSC certificate is not a requirement for qualification to hold office as Governor is that the mens rea (knowledge/intention) of the alleged offence as pleaded has not been proven and also that the entire point is non sequitur,” they stated.

Furthermore, citing several judicial authorities, the final written address equally argued that the NYSC certificate, not being an educational qualification or a qualification for the office of governor, Mbah did not refer to it in the affidavit he deposed in the submission of his INEC form and therefore could be counted against him.

“Thus where no reference is made at all to a document, even if accompanying an affidavit, that document is indeed an orphan, and sadly so,” they held.

Mbah’s counsels pointed out that the petitioners’ witnesses from the NYSC testified against the petitioners in favour of Mbah by admitting that the NYSC mobilised the governor for national service, approved his suspension of service to go for his Law School programme, and also reposted him to Udeh & Associates to complete his service after the law school.

They held that having fulfilled the obligations, it was mandatory on the NYSC to issue Mbah a certificate, hence the case of forgery could not have arisen.

“The fact that the Petitioners themselves tendered a certified true copy of the said certificate certified by NYSC themselves, puts a lie to the claim of forgery, because prima facie shows that they hold a copy of it and that NYSC is the custodian.

“Section 2 of the NYSC Act mandates the NYSC to issue a certificate of national service, using the word ‘shall’. See Bamaiyi v. Attorney General of the Federation (2001) on the mandatory implication of the word ‘shall’

“Therefore, it cannot be reasonable in a situation where proof must be beyond reasonable doubt to state that such mandatory statutory responsibility was not performed because of a punitive measure, yet no formal record of same was tendered before this honourable tribunal. This is a massive hole in criminal allegations of forgery being advanced by the petitioners.

On the allegation of falsification of results, the Respondents said: “Although the petitioners made allegations of falsification of election results with respect to 24 Polling Units (19 Polling units in Udenu and 5 Polling Units in Igboeze North), they only presented witnesses with respect to seven 7 Polling Units.

“Whereas in paragraphs 104 – 114 (pages 28 – 32) of their petition, the petitioners alleged over-voting in a total of 16 polling units (7 units at Owo, 3 Units at Ugbawka, 1 unit at Enugu East, and 5 units at Igboeze North Local Government), they petitioners only presented witnesses in respect of 13 Units.

“May we also mention here that contrary to the claim of the Petitioner that Ward results in Ward 05 of Udenu LGA and Umuozi VII of Igboeze North LGA were falsified, it is clear on the face of both exhibits that the results were signed on behalf of the 2nd Petitioner (LP).

“The law is now settled in the case of Gundiri v. Nyako (2014) and Alamu & Anor v. Rijau & Ors that the signature of a political party’s agent on the face of the election result sheet authenticates the result”.

On their part, Counsels to the Labour Party Candidate, Chijioke Edeoga argued that the fundamental question was that Peter Mbah presented a forged NYSC certificate to INEC against the provisions of the Constitution.

Speaking on what transpired in court, Ifeanyi Ogenyi said that, “The fundamental questions which was argued by the petitioners was that the second respondent presented a forged NYSC discharge certificate to INEC and by admission of all the parties, they all agreed that Peter Mbah presented the said NYSC certificate in question to INEC. That was not in question.

“The petitioners then made the court know that the issuing authority which is the NYSC had come to the tribunal to testify that the certificate did not emanate from them.

“The Constitution makes it clear that once you present a forged certificate to INEC, that candidate stands disqualified. We have also established before the court that they’re was over voting in Ugbawka and Owo in Nkanu East and some polling units in Igbo-eze North local government.

“Those evidence were not controverted by any of the respondents including INEC which did not call any witness,” he said.

On her part, Valerie Azinge (SAN) said that she was confident that having presented all the necessary evidence in court justice will be done.

Justice Murayo Akano-tribunal, after taking the final addresses of the petitioners and respondents, reserved judgment for a date to be communicated to the parties.

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