The National Youth Service Corps, or NYSC, served as the first witness in the Labour Party’s (LP) ongoing election tribunal defence of its lawsuit against Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu State. The petition accused the governor of forging certificates.
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 (INEC), was also presented.
The witnesses (PW1) were led into evidence by the petitioners, who were represented by Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, with the assistance of Dr. Valerie Azinge, SAN, Ifeanyi Ogenyi, Esq., and others.
The tribunal accepted the written deposition that the witness, Aliyu Abdul Mohammed, Director of Certification for the NYSC, took under oath and presented.
However, the third respondent, PDP, and its attorney Anthony Ani, SAN, opposed 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 statement 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 of ANDP & anor V. INEC and Damina & Anor V. Adamu and ors.
In response, the petitioners’ attorneys sought the court to accept the PW1’s written sworn deposition, using the Ararume & Anor V. INEC case as support because it, in their opinion, conflicts with the authority provided by the respondents’ counsel.
The tribunal quickly ruled that the document was admissible and that it would decide on the respondents’ objections at the time of final judgement.
Mohammed said to the tribunal during his main examination that he appeared in response 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 concerns regarding the certificate that the organisation had allegedly provided.
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 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 witness said in paragraph three (3) of the petitioners’ witness’s deposition under oath.
The respondent’s attorney raised an objection to the documents’ admissibility and saved their justifications for final written arguments.
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 Petitioner’s counsel sought to tender her written deposition on oath as evidence, which was objected to by the respondent’s counsel, citing the same grounds raised in the first stage.
The court however admitted the document and reserved the ruling during judgment.
She also adopted the subpoena of the tribunal dated the 21st day of June 2023, which was admitted and marked as exhibit PTC/01/09.
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.
Also admitted in evidence over objections was a letter addressed to the presiding justice of the Federal High Court, Lagos Division, requesting the production of the appointment letter appointing Barr. Peter Mbah as the Chief of Staff to the then-governor of Enugu State, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, on July 14, 2003, the year he (Mbah) claimed he was serving. The letter is marked exhibit PTC/01/13 a&b.
For further hearing, the matter was postponed to Tuesday, July 11, 2023.