The Enugu State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal on Thursday ordered Governor Peter Mbah to appear before it tomorrow, to testify on his allegedly National Youth Service Corps discharged certificate forgery.
The order was a sequel to an application made by the Peoples Redemption Party, through its Counsel, Mr Alex Amujiogo.
Mbah, who was declared winner of the March 18, governorship election in Enugu State by the Independent National Electoral Commission is facing a mounting challenge from the Labour Party candidate, Chijioke Edeoga and PRP candidate, Elder Christopher Agu over his alleged forgery of the National Youths Service Corps Discharge Certificate presented to the electoral umpire.
The PRP candidate, Agu like the LP candidate is seeking to upturn the declaration of Gov Mbah as the winner of the March 18 governorship election conducted in the State.
Agu in a petition filed before the Tribunal is claiming among others that Mbah was not qualified to contest the election, having allegedly forged an NYSC discharge certificate, among other issues.
At the resumed hearing, on Thursday, the PRP’s counsel, Amujiogo told the tribunal that Mbah was supposed to be in court as a subpoenaed witness.
He, however, said from the affidavit deposed to by the bailiff of the Tribunal, it had been difficult to serve Mbah the summon.
Amujiogo then moved an application, urging the Tribunal to grant a substituted service of the summon on Mbah through his counsel.
Although the application was opposed by the three respondents, the INEC, Mbah as well as the Peoples Democratic Party, on the grounds that it was supposed to come by way of motion, supported by an affidavit during the pre-trial session.
However, they were overruled by the Tribunal.
Consequently, the Chairman of the Panel, Justice K. M. Akano ordered that the subpoena be served on Mbah through his counsel and that he should appear before the Tribunal tomorrow, June 23, 2023.
Meanwhile, the PRP governorship candidate had earlier during the session also testified before the Tribunal as PW2.
An official of the NYSC from the National Secretariat, Abuja, Mr Aliu Muhammed, who also appeared on behalf of the Director-General of the Corps, tendered an affidavit to the Tribunal, declaring that an order of a Federal High Abuja, was inhibiting them from tendering the disclaimer the Corps made against Mbah’s certificate.
Muhammed was in court following a subpoena on NYSC.
Edoga is praying the tribunal disqualifies Mba, over the alleged forgery, an act that he claims, violates Section 182 (j) of the Nigerian Constitution.
During the resumed sitting of the Tribunal on Thursday, the Petitioners through their Counsel Mr M. J. Numa, moved their interlocutory application, after which the suit was adjourned for ruling on the application on Saturday, May 24, as well as a pre-trial report.
Addressing journalists shortly after the Tribunal’s session, one of Edeoga’s counsels, Ifeanyi Ogenyi, said the proceeding was a continuation of the pre-hearing session.
He said “Pre-hearing started on 16th June and continued today; the petitioners brought an application, a motion interrogatories, seeking for answers from the second respondent, that is Mr Peter Mbah.
“Interrogatory is a legal questionnaire; it is seeking for answers to those questions.
“And some of the questions raised by the petitioners to Peter Mbah which we are urging the Tribunal that he (Mbah) should answer are: when and where did he serve? When was he appointed as Chief of Staff, the date? When was he made commissioner for finance in Enugu State? We want to know the duration he served.
“Because in his pleading, in his reply to the petition, he told the Tribunal that he was once Chief of Staff to Governor Chimaroke Nnamani in 2003, we want to know the year and the date he was appointed.
We equally want him to produce before the Tribunal, the letter of appointment as Chief of Staff, the letter of appointment as commissioner for finance under Chimaroke and the institutions he said he attended; we want to have the documents showing that he attended those institutions.
“And the court is to deliver a ruling on that on 24th of June, that is on Saturday, whether he should answer those questions or not.”
“On their own side, they said ‘No’, they are not going to answer those questions; that answering those questions means that we want him to prove our case for us.
“But that is not the position. It is required under the law that where somebody has made volunteered some information, you can seek for further particulars;
“What we are seeking for is further particulars; he should clarify the Tribunal and our information on those issues he raised in his own pleadings.
“On 24th, we will be here for ruling and possibly conclusion of pre-hearing, and after pre-hearing and report is issued, we can now proceed to a substantive hearing,” he said.