The Labour Party, LP, has continued the defence of its petition against Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu State at the Election Tribunal with the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, as its first witness to prove the allegation of certificate forgery against the governor.

At the resumed hearing of the petition filed by LP and its candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, they called the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, as its first witness whose official, Director of Certification, Aliyu Abdul Mohammed tendered some documents which were admitted by the tribunal as evidence.

Among the documents tendered by the NYSC were the alleged forged discharge certificate used by Mbah as well as the original discharge certificate which they said Mbah ought to have collected. Also tendered was a letter written by Oma and Partners, an Abuja-based law firm, which had asked the Corps to scrutinize the discharge certificate submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, by the governor.

The petitioners, represented by Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, leading Dr. Valerie Azinge, SAN, Ifeanyi Ogenyi Esq, and others, led the witness (PW1) in evidence.

The witness, the Director of Certification, NYSC, Aliyu Abdul Mohammed adopted his written deposition on oath which was tendered and admitted in evidence by the tribunal.

The third respondent, PDP, counsel, Anthony Ani, SAN, however, objected to the admissibility of the document and opted to move a motion dated and filed on the 7th day of July 2023, which seeks to pray the tribunal to strike out the written deposition on oath of the PW1 on the ground of incompetence. The 1st respondent, INEC, as well as the 2nd respondent (Peter Mbah) aligned themselves with the submission of Ani.

Making their case, the respondents relied on the Court of Appeal decision in the case of ANDP & anor V INEC as well as that of Damina & Anor V Adamu and ors and asked the court to strike out the written deposition on oath of the PW1 for lack of competence.

In response, the petitioners’ lawyers relying on the case of Ararume & Anor V INEC, which according to them, is a conflicting decision with the authorities cited by the respondents’ counsel, asked the court to admit the written deposition on oath of the PW1.

In a short ruling, the tribunal admitted the document and reserved ruling on the objections raised by the respondents for final judgment.

In his examination-in-chief, Mohammed told the tribunal that he acted on a subpoena served on the Director General of the NYSC or any other official to appear before the tribunal to give evidence to clear some issues bordering on the certificate purportedly issued by the agency.

The subpoena was also admitted in evidence without objection from the respondents and was marked as exhibit PTC/01/06.

Mohammed also tendered his official identity card as a staff of NYSC which was equally admitted in evidence and marked as exhibit PTC/01/07.

In paragraph three (3) of the Petitioners’ Witness’s deposition on oath, the witness stated that in “obedience to the subpoena by the tribunal, he came with the authentic discharge certificate of the governor, as well as the one purportedly given to him”.

The respondent’s counsel objected to the admissibility of the documents and reserved their reasons for final written addresses.
The tribunal however admitted the documents and marked them as exhibits PTC/ 01/08 a and b.

The Petitioners also presented another witness, an Abuja-based legal practitioner, Mary Nneoma Elijah, a principal partner in the law firm of Oma and Partners. She is the Petitioners’ Witness 2.

The Petitioner’s counsel sought to tender her written deposition on oath as evidence, which was objected to by the respondent’s counsel, citing the same grounds raised in the first stage.

The court however admitted the document and reserved the ruling during judgment.

She also adopted the subpoena of the tribunal dated the 21st day of June 2023, which was admitted and marked as exhibit PTC/01/09.

The witness’s letter to INEC, as well as the reply given by INEC, was sought to be tendered by the petitioners’ counsel amid objections from the respondents’ counsel.

However, the letters, as well as the discharged certificate were admitted and marked as exhibits PTC/01/11 a, b & c respectively.

Also, a letter addressed to the presiding justice of the Federal High Court, Lagos Division, for the production of the appointment letter dated 14 July 2003, appointing Barr. Peter Mbah as the Chief of Staff to the then governor of Enugu State, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani in the same year he (Mbah) claimed he was serving, was admitted in evidence amidst objections and marked as exhibit PTC/01/13 a&b.

The matter was adjourned to Tuesday, 11 July 2023 for further hearing.


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