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Edeoga’s petition against me hopeless, throw it out, Gov Mbah urges tribunal

By Jonathan Eze

The Enugu State governor, Barr. Peter Mbah, has urged the Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Enugu to dismiss the petition filed against him by the Labour Party and its governorship candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, saying the petition was hopeless, weak, lack substance and an abuse and waste of court time.

Mbah, in his final written address, demonstrated that Edeoga’s petition was ill-fated to be dismissed from the beginning since the petitioners could not provide any shred of evidence in support of the grounds of their petition.

Edeoga had approached the tribunal in April to challenge the March 18 gubernatorial election that brought the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, and its candidate to power on the grounds of alleged NYSC certificate forgery and election rigging.

However, during trial at the tribunal, the petitioners had failed to prove that the 3rd respondent, Mbah, forged and presented the alleged discharge certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

While urging the court to dismiss the petition before it, Mbah said what Edeoga had succeeded in doing was to waste the resources and time of the court in a voyage doomed to fail as he had neither been able to demonstrate forgery nor rigging against him.

In his final written address, the governor acknowledged the right of the petitioners as citizens to approach the court, but said they ought to have known that they could not procure justice through emotion, sentiment and hearsay evidence.

Quoting a plethora of decisions of the supreme court, Mbah said during the cross examinations, all the witnesses called by Edeoga and the Labour Party only tendered hearsay evidence which is generally inadmissible in law.

He took his time to make mockery of all the hearsay evidence presented to the court by the petitioners, pointing out the major inconsistencies, lapses and conjectures of the petitioners’ witnesses which make the petition dead of arrival.

Recall that some of the witnesses subpoenaed by Edeoga and Labour Party had testified against them at the tribunal affirming that there was neither over voting, BVAS bypass, computational errors of the election figures nor evidence of certificate forgery as against the claims of the petitioners.

For instance, the Enugu State Labour Party Chairman, Barr. Casmir Agbo, who testified for Edeoga, had during cross examination, affirmed that Mbah was qualified to contest the election as NYSC certificate was not a prerequisite for the office of the governor in line with the provisions of section 177 of the constitution.

Agbo further told the tribunal that the governor is a lawyer, who had his Law degree from London, an evidence that Mbah was qualified and would have no reason to submit a forged NYSC discharge certificate not intended by the constitution as a requirement.

Edeoga had also called the NYSC Director of Certification, Ibrahim Muhammad, who only told the tribunal that Mbah was duly mobilised and remobilized for the scheme but could not confirm that the NYSC issued his certificate.

The NYSC Director had failed to tender any document in support that it did not issue Mbah’s discharge certificate or any other certificate it had prepared for the 3rd respondent.

However, in a swift response, the INEC official called by the petitioners informed the tribunal, under cross examination, that the certificate was sent to the NYSC for certification as a public document emanating from the scheme, and that the NYSC duly affirmed its ownership by its certification.

Calling his witness, Mbah had the Nigeria secret police, State Security Service (SSS) testified on its covert investigation indicting the NYSC and its officials of compromise, shaddy job and witch-hunt.

The SSS Deputy Director, Mr. Yahaya Isa Mohammed, who informed the tribunal, under cross examination by the petitioners’ lawyers, that he was in court with the knowledge and approval of the Director General in honour of the subpoena issued by it, said its investigation revealed that Mbah served and was issued with the NYSC discharge certificate in his possession by the scheme.

On the issue of over voting and rigging, Edeoga and Labour Party admitted that most of the witnesses they called were not party accredited agents but insisted they were their members who were informed by those at polling units what happened during the election.

Senior lawyers who have been keenly monitoring the proceedings predicted that Edeoga’s petition is doomed to suffer dismissal from the tribunal up to the supreme court for lack of merit and dearth of evidence except justice is subverted overnight through corrupt means.

“See, I respect the lead counsel of the petitioners, Chief Awomolo SAN, and I would not want to pre-empt the decision of the tribunal as a senior lawyer. However, I have gone through the petition, reply, and final written addresses of the parties. With due respect, the matter will be dismissed for lack of evidence. It shouldn’t have found its way to the tribunal in the first place. It’s an abuse of the court process. Anything short of the above would mean that corruption has been incentivized,” a Lagos based senior lawyer and human rights activist said.

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