The Enugu Good Governance Group has hailed the decision of the Enugu State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal upholding the election of Governor Peter Mbah of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), condemning what it described as attempts to misrepresent the verdict of the tribunal out of political desperation, mischief, and ignorance.
It also expressed worries over what it described as “a worsening penchant of politicians to sing the praise of the judiciary when judgments go their way, but only to denigrate the institution when judgment go against them, even when they could seek reliefs in appellate courts”.
The group spoke through a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Odinaka Okechukwu, on Sunday.
“In the case of the Enugu State, for instance, the tribunal was categorical that the petitioner and Labour Party (LP) governorship candidate, Hon. Chijioke Edeoga, was unable to prove forgery allegation against Governor Peter Mbah of the PDP.
“Although the court reeled our several grounds founded on the constitution, Electoral Act, Supreme Court and Court of Appeal decisions why Edeoga’s forgery and non-qualification claims against Mbah could not stand, it nevertheless went ahead to do justice to the issue of forgery, which it said the petitioner could not prove”, the civil society group stated.
“It is on record that even the NYSC witness, Mr. Ibrahim Muhammad, subpoenaed at the instance of the petitioner, admitted in his Statement on Oath that Mbah was mobilised for service, suspended his service midstream to complete his Law School programme on NYSC’s approval, and that the agency reinstated him through a letter dated 7th May 2023 (Reference No. NYSC/DHQ/CM/27/20) to continue his service from where he stopped. He admitted that Mbah was reposted to Udeh & Associates, a law firm, “to continue his service from where he stopped”.
“Muhammad only claimed that the agency had no record that he completed the remaining four months upon restatement and that he stopped coming for compulsory weekly Community Development Service (CDS).
“But how was the court supposed to believe such cock and bull story when NYSC failed to refer to Mbah’s place of primary assignment in determining whether or not he served up those remaining months after his reinstatement? Moreso when Mbah tendered the monthly clearance letters by his place of primary assignment dated 26th June 2003, 29th July 2003, and 8th September 2003 based on which this same NYSC paid his monthly allowances and the final clearance dated 16th September 2003 for issuance of his NYSC certificate. How could NYSC pay someone for four months and still it had no record he served?
“In Paragraph 14 of Muhammad’s Statement on Oath, the NYSC made it appear Mbah was not issued a discharge certificate because he stopped attending CDS. How was the court supposed to believe that, given the provisions of Section 11 of the NYSC Act? More so when the agency failed to exhibit any records such CDS attendance register, a query, investigation report, indictment, and letter of sanction to that effect?
“How was the court supposed to believe that Mbah did not sign the certificate collection register for his set when NYSC/Edeoga did not bring any register before it?
“How was the court supposed to believe NYSC/Edeoga when DSS investigation clearly showed that the agency lost his file at a point and created a temporary file with number LA/01/1532/T for him, with “T” standing for ‘temporary’?
“How was the court supposed to believe NYSC testimony when DSS investigation clearly showed that the claim by the agency that it did not issue “8 series” certificates to Corps members in Lagos in that year and batch was a big lie as records revealed that NYSC did not just issue “8 series” certificates to that Lagos batch, but also to Corps members in other parts of Nigeria.
“How was the tribunal supposed to believe NYSC when DSS investigation established with evidence that the agency could not account for 12 of its “8 series” certificates starting from A808297 (Mbah’s certificate serial number) to A808308? Was that not enough ground for the tribunal to hold that for it to accept that the one Mbah holds is fake, NYSC must produce the original of that certificate number or another authentic owner of that certificate number other than Mbah?
“How was the court supposed to believe NYSC/Edeoga when they failed to produce the “6 series” certificate they claimed should have been issued to Mbah. NYSC claimed it shredded it long ago. So, what happened to a digital copy?
“The only discharge certificate presented before the tribunal by the petitioner was a certified true copy of certificate number A808297 which, ironically, was certified by the same NYSC. This alone destroys every claim of forgery because NYSC could not have certified what was not in their custody or authentic”, the group added.
The civil society organisation also maintained that it was hypocritical for “people, who go to tribunals to challenge INEC results and Certificates of Return to claim NYSC’s disclaimer of Mbah’s certificate is final simply because it is the issuing authority”.
“Is INEC not also the issuing authority of INEC Certificates of Return?” the group queried.
It concluded by calling on security agencies to “investigate everyone involved in this NYSC circus, for there is obviously more to it than meets the eyes”.