The Labour Party has proceeded with its defence of the petition against Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu State at the Election Tribunal.
According to The PUNCH, the National Youth Service Corps was called as the initial witness to substantiate the accusation of certificate forgery made against the governor.
The NYSC was called as the petition’s first witness at the petition’s resumed hearing by the LP and its candidate, Barr Chijioke Edeoga.
The NYSC’s Director of Certification, Aliyu Abdul Mohammed, presented some documents that the tribunal accepted as evidence.
The purported fake discharge certificate that Mbah allegedly utilised as well as the legitimate discharge certificate that they claim Mbah should have obtained were among the documents provided by the NYSC.
A letter from the Abuja legal firm Oma and Partners, asking the Corps to examine the governor’s discharge certificate for the Independent National Electoral Commission, was also presented.
The witness (PW1) was introduced into evidence by the petitioners’ attorney, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, in conjunction with Dr. Valerie Azinge, SAN, Ifeanyi Ogenyi, Esq., and others.
The witnesses (PW1) were led into evidence by the petitioners, who were represented by Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, Dr. Valerie Azinge, SAN, Ifeanyi Ogenyi, Esq., and others.
The tribunal accepted the written deposition taken under oath by the witness, Aliyu Abdul Mohammed, Director of Certification for the NYSC, as evidence.
However, the third respondent, PDP, and its attorney Barr Anthony Ani, SAN, objected to the document’s admissibility and chose to move a motion dated and filed on July 7, 2023, which asks the tribunal to strike out the PW1’s written deposition under oath on the grounds of incompetence. Both the first respondent, INEC, and the second respondent (Peter Mbah), sided with Ani’s submission.
The respondents urged the court to throw out the PW1’s written deposition under oath for lack of competence, citing the Court of Appeal’s ruling in the cases ANDP & anor V INEC and Damina & anor V Adamu and ors.
In response, the petitioners’ solicitors sought the court to accept the PW1’s written deposition under oath, citing the Ararume & anor V. INEC case as precedent that, in their view, conflicts with the authorities mentioned by the respondents’ counsel.
The tribunal quickly ruled to admit the material while reserving its final decision on the respondents’ concerns.
Mohammed explained to the tribunal during his main examination that he had responded to a subpoena issued to the NYSC Director General or any other official to appear before the tribunal and provide testimony in order to resolve some problems with the certificate that had been ostensibly issued by the organisation.
Without the respondents raising a challenge, the subpoena was likewise accepted into evidence and designated as exhibit PTC/01/06.
Mohammed also offered his legitimate NYSC employee identification card, which was accepted as evidence and designated 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 respondents’ counsel objected to the admissibility of the documents and reserved their reasons for final written addresses.
The documents were nonetheless accepted by the tribunal, who designated them as exhibits PTC/ 01/08 a and b.
The petitioners also called Mary Nneoma Elijah, a partner and lead attorney at Oma and Partners in Abuja, who is stationed there as a witness. She is Witness 2 for the Petitioners.
The respondents’ counsel opposed, using the identical reasons cited in the first stage, to the petitioners’ counsel’s request to submit her written deposition taken under oath as evidence.
However, the court accepted the material and postponed making a decision until after judgement.
She also adopted the accepted exhibit PTC/01/09, which was the tribunal’s subpoena dated June 21, 2023.
The petitioners’ counsel attempted to offer the witness’s letter to INEC and the agency’s response in the face of opposition from the respondents’ counsel.
The letters and discharge certificate, however, were accepted as exhibits and designated as PTC/01/11a, b, and c, respectively.
Despite objections, the court admitted into evidence a letter addressed to the presiding justice of the Federal High Court, Lagos Division, requesting 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.
The hearing has been rescheduled for Tuesday, July 11, 2023.