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Certificate Forgery: Court Refuses To Stop NYSC From Giving Evidence Against Governor Mbah At Enugu Election Petition Tribunal



Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja has declined an application for an interlocutory injunction seeking to restrain the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) from appearing to give evidence before the Enugu State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal.

Justice Ekwo rejected the interlocutory application on Tuesday, during the resumed hearing of the suit, numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/611/2023.

The application was filed by Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu State, through his counsel, Emeka Ozoani, SAN, seeking an order of the court to stop the NYSC from giving evidence on alleged NYSC certificate forgery.

The interlocutory injunction is a court order to compel or prevent a party from taking certain actions pending the final determination of the case. It is usually issued to maintain the status quo until judgment can be made.

This would have meant that the NYSC would have been prevented from making any commentary, written or oral about the contentious discharge certificate until whichever time the case is determined by the court.

SaharaReporters reported on May 16, 2023 that Justice Ekwo had issued an ex parte other restraining the NYSC from making any further publications concerning Mbah’s NYSC discharge certificate, a development that elicited negative reactions from Nigerians.

However, during the resumed hearing on Tuesday, Justice Ekwo appeared to be in a hurry to remedy the earlier ex parte it issued, as he barely waited for Ozoani to finish speaking before cutting him short to say that “this court will not entertain any such application”.

He told Governor Mbah’s counsel to forget about the injunction and concentrate on the main suit.

The court consequently adjourned the case to July 11, 2023, to hear the preliminary objection challenging the competence of the suit filed by the NYSC.

With this development, NYSC is free to appear before the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Enugu on July 7, 2023 to give evidence that the discharge certificate submitted to INEC by Mbah as part of prequalification for governorship, was not issued by the body.

Following a Freedom of Information Act application by a law firm, Omas and Partners, the NYSC had issued a letter repudiating the Enugu governor’s discharge certificate, which led the embattled governor to initiate a suit against the body.

The issue of the controversial discharge certificate is one of the five grounds the Labour Party and its candidate in the 2023 governorship election in Enugu, Mr Chijioke Edeoga, are seeking to disqualify Mbah and remove him from office as governor.

But the NYSC, in its response to the suit at the Abuja court, had filed a slew of evidence to prove Mbah’s discharge certificate was forged.

In a deposition at the Federal High Court, Abuja, deposed to by the Assistant Director in the Corps Certification Department, Mrs Rhoda Dawa, NYSC submitted, among other things the alleged forged certificate Mbah submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, a photocopy of the original copy of the certificate that was to be issued to Mbah, a date sheet showing where discharged corps members signed for their certificates, and another data sheet with the names of unclaimed certificates.

Others are official circulars authorising the destruction of unclaimed certificates, photographs of the incineration of the unclaimed discharge certificates, samples of the NYSC discharge certificates issued during the period the governor was supposed to have performed his compulsory national service, and the police and Department of State Services’ letters of investigation, among others.

Governor Mbah had, in his court filings, claimed that he duly completed his national youth service and was given a certificate of discharge, and had taken the NYSC to court.

He is claiming N20 billion for what he described as conspiracy, deceit, and misrepresentation of facts.

Apart from N20 billion in damages being sought by Mbah, the governor is seeking a declaration that he participated in the NYSC scheme for one calendar year via a call-up letter numbered FRN/2001/800351 with the Lagos code LA/01/1532.

He also argued that the declaration must state that he was issued a certificate of national service numbered A808297 upon the completion of his service year in 2003.

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