Governor of Enugu State and Peoples Democratic Party’s candidate in the March 18, 2023 governorship election in the state, Dr. Peter Mbah, on Wednesday, picked holes in the allegations of forgery of his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) discharge certificate, over-voting, and falsification of results.
This was even as drama ensued in court as the Respondents – Mbah, PDP, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) opposed application by the Petitioners to amend their prayer in their final written address seeking to be declared winners of the Rivers State governorship election rather than Enugu gubernatorial election. In adopting his final written address before the Justice M.K Akano-led tribunal, Mbah panel, through his counsels led by Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN, described the Petitioner’s reliance on NYSC discharge certificate as of “no moment”.
His 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. “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).
Furthermore, citing several judicial authorities, the final written address equally argued that NYSC certificate, not being an educational qualification or a qualification for the office of Governor, Dr. Mbah did not refer to it in the affidavit he deposed in the submission of his INEC form and therefore could not be counted against him. 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 with a certificate; hence the case of forgery could not have arisen.