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Court Clears Enugu Governor Mbah of Certificate Forgery, Derides NYSC For ‘Misrepresentation of Facts’

Court Clears Enugu Governor Mbah of Certificate Forgery, Derides NYSC For ‘Misrepresentation of Facts’

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A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Monday, cleared the Governor of Enugu State, Dr. Peter Mbah of forgery of the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) discharge certificate.
The court held that evidence before it showed that although Mbah was mobilised for service in 2001, he, however, completed his service in 2003.
The court in a judgement delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo in the N20 billion lawsuit filed by governor against the NYSC, held that there was no doubt that Mbah’s discharge certificate  was issued by the agency stating that the NYSC and that the agency “conspired by fraudulent design, suppressed and misrepresented facts” to have disclaimed the certificate.
He awarded N5 million damages against the defendants in the matter.
According to the court, Mbah, midway into his service, sought and after received permission from NYSC to attend the Nigeria Law School, was reinstated into the NYSC in 2003.
He further said  while the evidence that Mbah served in the law firm of one Udeh & Associates was not challenged by the NYSC.
Justice Inyang berated the corps for not charging the governor for forgery if indeed they believed that they didn’t issue the said NYSC certificate to him.
He concluded that the NYSC was mischievous and acted in bad faith by denying Mbah’s NYSC certificate.
“A declaration is hereby made that the Defendants conspired by fraudulent design, suppressed and misrepresented facts in supposition that the Plaintiff’s certificate of National Service with certificate Number A808297 was not issued by the Defendants, a fact they knew or ought to know as untrue, incorrect, which act constitutes the tor lt of conspiracy,” the court declared.
Justice Ekwo further held that the “predominant purpose of the deceitful misrepresentation” disclaiming Mbah’s discharge certificate” was intended albeit to inflict damages in his legal profession, politics, business, as it was to unlawfully profit the Defendants”.
Justice Ekwo berated the NYSC for not  Mbah’s producing Mbah’s initial file and the temporal one opened in the course of his service.
“There is no evidence that file with Ref. No. LA/01/1532 or file with Red No. LA/01/1532/T are documents, which are not in the custody of the Defendants and there is no evidence that both files were disposed of during the incineration of 2022. The Defendants have failed to proffer any credible  evidence on the whereabouts of those files.
“I find that non-production of file with Ref. No. LA/01/1532 or file with Red No. LA/01/1532/T means the contents thereof would have gone against the Defendants in this case and I so hold,” he stated.
He also faulted NYSC’s claim that Mbah’s rightful discharge certificate Number A673517 was burnt after it was not collected by the governor, wondering how the agency then obtained the  Mbah’s discharge certificate Number A808297 dated 6th January, the certified copy of which was tendered before the court by it.
“To make matters worse, the certification by the stamp thereon was done on 19th August, 2023, long after this case was initiated on 4th May, 2023. A person can only certify a document,.which original he has in his possession,” Justice Ekwo added.
The court went on to award the sum of N5 million damages to Mbah.
In May, the governor had sued the NYSC and its Director, Corps Certification, Mr Ibrahim Muhammad, for publishing a disclaimer, denying the issuance of a discharge certificate issued to him on January 6, 2003.
But the NYSC, in its preliminary objection dated May 19 and filed May 22, had sought an order dismissing or striking out the suit for want of jurisdiction and competence.
Giving three grounds of argument, the corps had said  Mbah did not appeal to the president as required by the provisions of Section 20 of the National Youth Service Corps Act, Cap N84, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 before instituting the suit against the defendants.
It had argued that appeal to the president was a condition precedent to instituting an action against the defendants in any court of law.
Meanwhile, a civil society organisation, the Enugu Good Governance Group (E-3G), has asked the Director-General of the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, Brigadier General Yusha’u Ahmed and the Director, Corps Certification of the agency, Mohamad Ibrahim, to immediately resign for ineptitude, conspiracy, and malicious misrepresentation of facts on Mbah’s certificate saga.
The group also raised the alarm over the skyrocketing judgement debts incurred due to what it termed the recklessness and ineptitude of government functionaries.
In a statement issued in Enugu, on Monday, by its National Coordinator, Odinaka Okechukwu, the E-3G said the trend would continue until heads of ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) were made to bear the cost of such penalties.
Reacting to the Court verdict, the group stated: “We congratulate the Governor of Enugu State and all lovers of democracy on this victory. The victory is not about Mbah, but about many, who have suffered or would have suffered such injustices in the future due to the ineptitude, collusion, conspiracy, politicisation, recklessness, and impunity of public institutions for selfish gains.
“It worries that NYSC, admitted that it reinstated Mbah on 27th May 2003 to complete the four months remaining of his service after his Nigerian Law School programme, posted him to Udeh & Associates for his primary assignment, but claimed that they did not have record to show that he served those remaining months when, in fact, the acknowledged clearance letters to the agency by Mbah’s place of primary assignment clearly showed that this same NYSC cleared and paid him his monthly allowances for the months in contention.”
According to the group, “it is a shame that NYSC lost Mbah’s file, created a temporary file in the course of his service and could not even account for a whopping 12 certificates in Mbah’s certificate series.
“Yet the agency wanted to put the burden of their incompetence or collusion on an innocent person.”
“We, therefore, call for legal reforms that would put the burden of judgment fees wholly or partly on MDAs and all senior officials under whose watch such infractions occurred. It should be tied to their salaries and / or retirement benefits for life to serve as a deterrent”, the group concluded.

LUCKY KENEDY

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