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On: June 15, 2023 - In: Headlines - No comments




As the Election Petition Tribunal in Enugu picks steam, unfolding events are inexorably pointing to an Edeoga victory. One of the reasons Enugu PDP has not unraveled is the belief in the ‘Nigerian Factor’- the assumption that once a Governor is sworn into office, he will, willy nilly triumph at the courts and tribunals irrespective of how hopeless his case may be. But the scenario here is different. This old permutation may have held more appeal were it that Edeoga’s and Labour Party’s case was resting on facts and records of the election alone.
But even such a situation does not leave Edeoga destitute of expectations. He is on solid grounds to win the election on the strength of facts and figures. The rock bottom fact is that he won the election but was put in a disadvantaged position by the manipulations and shenanigans of the PDP and INEC.



However, the dimension of the matter at the Tribunal that accuses Governor Peter Mbah of forgery and the presentation a forged NYSC certificate to INEC is heading to be fatal in implication. This is so because the moment Edeoga is able to establish the veracity of this allegation, Governor Peter Mbah’s claim to the Lion Building will dismember like a pack of cards.
It has been pleaded for Peter Mbah at the Tribunal that an NYSC discharge certificate is not a requirement to contest the governorship election. It has also been canvassed for Mbah that his certificate bears the imprimatur of the Nigerian Security and Minting PLC.  Both positions may be true. One must not possess an NYSC discharge certificate to contest an election. The issue as far as the Constitution is concerned is the presentation of a forged document. In the same token, the presentation of a paper truly printed by the Mint does not confer legitimacy or originality on what is written on it since such a printed paper could be stolen from the NYSC strong room as has been reported to occur from time to time. What confer legitimacy are the serial number, calligraphy, and signature on it.
Section 6(1)(1) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) states that anybody who submits a forged document to INEC stands disqualified. This is a strict provision that is activated once a forged document is presented whether the paper bears the imprimatur of the Mint or not, or whether the person presenting it is the forger or not. There are no extenuating circumstances or ameliorating conditions. The Court of Appeal in Isa Mohammed Wabu & anor vs.Hon Mohammed Garba Gololo & Ors. held that ‘’ for the appellants to succeed in their allegation of disqualification of the 1st respondent on the grounds of his having presented a forged document to the 3rd respondent(INEC), he does not have to prove that he was the one who forged the said document. All they need to prove beyond reasonable doubt, is that the said documents he presented were forged and in proving the presentation of the forged certificate to INEC, the person asserting the positive does not have the duty to prove that the person who presented the forged certificate was guilty of forgery, but that he made the presentation in the first place, and that the certificate has been proved beyond reasonable doubt to be forged’’. That this is the intendment of the spirit of Section 66 (1)(1).
The recent release of Mbah’s appointment letter as Chief of Staff to Governor Chimaroke Nnamani in 2003 further complicates matters for the Governor. The said letter is laden with legal landmines. One, it is a conclusive proof, that not only did Mbah not conclude his NYSC programme as indicated by the NYSC management, he complicated his legal exposure beyond qualification to contest the governorship election to a mind-boggling forgery that could earn him some handsome number of years behind bars.
Dated July 14, 2003, it implies that Mbah deceived not only INEC but had carried his bag of tricks and fraud to the governor of his state as early as 2003, and got him to appoint him(Mbah) as Chief of Staff while he was supposed to be serving his (our) fatherland. Nigeria is probably the only country where this level of deceit and chicanery is possible.
The more plausible explanation of what transpired between Mbah and the NYSC is that he was mobilized for service and he went for photo ops during orientation, targeted strategic events in the Service and got himself photographed for the records. That explains why he had those photo records and even a copy of a meal ticket during his service. While this charade was going on alongside his employment as Chief of Staff to his state governor, he engaged those who assured him will deliver to him an ‘original’ fake discharge certificate. And he really trusted them. Whether it was as a result of the heftiness of the fee paid for the sleaze or the quality of the certificates they delivered, only he can say.
But Mbah was smart by a half. His calculations did not tell him that because of work load and to ensure that the NYSC calligrapher is able to scribble all the discharge certificates in time, he (calligrapher) works through the service year. The reader should note, as indicated by the NYSC, that they use only one calligrapher to avoid faking. Those conversant with the NYSC indicate that those certificates remain in their strong room until passing- out when they are issued to deserving corpers. They also indicate that many staff of the Corps who serve in this department are regularly sacked in attempt to smuggle out these certificates which they usually fail to do after receiving inducement by dodgers of National Service like Peter Mbah. This fraudulent practice has left Mbah with the haunting embarrassment of being the only one in his set as indicated by the NYSC whose discharge certificate bears a different calligraphy from the rest in his supposed service year.
Mbah’s case is even made more ridiculous by the fact that he did not sign the sheet of paper indicating his collection of his discharge certificate. This also includes the traditional ‘’Original copy collected by me.’’ What an assemblage of improbable sets of circumstances? Which court, no matter how compromised can be convinced by these tales by moonlight?
Then because Mbah had already taken appointment as Chief of Staff, he chose his discharge year as 2002 in order to avoid conflict with his appointment letter, while the NYSC insists his expected year of discharge was 2003.
To crown all of his chess game, those crafting his fake discharge certificate awarded him his own custom- made serial number, while the main original certificate which he failed to collect bore a different number. What a country, and what manner of citizens?
As has been indicated in my previous writings, all legal windows have been shut against Governor Mbah. The scheme around the gambit of issues of qualification being a pre-election matter has been trounced by Section 134(1)(a) of the Electoral Act 2022.
Then the gambit of Res Judicata which is inapplicable, and an attempt by Mbah’s lawyers to shut out the issue of forged NYSC certificate fell flat on its face as the Tribunal followed Section 285 (8) of the CFRN 1999 (as amended) in in interpreting the law. What then will save Peter Mbah?


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