The Labour Party, LP, began their evidence against the election of Barr Peter Mbah as governor of Enugu State on Friday.
The Enugu State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal heard the complaint submitted by the LP and its candidate, Barr Chijioke Edeoga.
The LP called the National Youth Service Corps, or NYSC, as its first witness at the resumption of the hearing.
The alleged forged discharge certificate, as well as the original discharge certificate which Mbah should have collected, are among the documents tendered by the NYSC, as is a letter written by Oma and Partners, an Abuja-based law firm, which had asked the Corps to scrutinize the discharge certificate submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, by the governor.
The Petitioners, represented by the main counsel, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, with Dr. Valerie Azinge, SAN, Ifeanyi Ogenyi Esq, and others, led the Petitioners Witness 1 (PW1) in evidence.
The Petitioners’ Witness 1 is Aliyu Abdul Mohammed, the Director of Certification at NYSC, who took his written deposition under oath.
Awomolo wanted to present the witness’s sworn deposition as evidence before the tribunal.
The third respondent, PDP, through its counsel, Barr Anthony Ani, SAN, objected to the document’s admissibility and chose to file a motion on July 7, 2023, asking the tribunal to strike out the PW1’s written statement under oath on the grounds of incompetence.
The first respondent, INEC, and the second respondent (Peter Mbah) agreed with Ani’s submission and asked the court to dismiss Mohammed’s (PW1) written deposition for lack of competence.
The respondents’ counsels urged the court to strike out the PW1’s written deposition under oath for lack of competence, citing the Court of Appeal decisions in the cases of ANDP & anor V INEC and Damina & anor V Adamu and ors.
In response, the petitioners’ lawyers sought the court to admit the PW1’s written deposition on oath, citing the case of Ararume & anor V INEC as a contrasting ruling with the authorities mentioned by the respondents’ counsel.
The tribunal allowed the document and reserved deciding on the respondents’ objections for final judgment in a brief ruling.
The PW1 was then brought in for the main examination.
Mohammed told the tribunal that he acted on a subpoena issued to the Director General of the NYSC or any other official to appear before the tribunal to give testimony in order to resolve various concerns with the certificate allegedly provided by the organization.
The respondents raised no objections to the subpoena, which was marked as exhibit PTC/01/06.
Mohammed also presented his legitimate NYSC identity card, which was admitted as evidence and labeled as exhibit PTC/01/07.
The witness indicated in paragraph three (3) of the Petitioners’ Witness’s oath deposition that he came with the authentic discharge certificate of the governor, as well as the one reportedly issued to him, in accordance to the tribunal’s subpoena.
The respondents’ lawyers objected to the documents’ admissibility and reserved their reasons for final written addresses.
The documents were accepted by the tribunal and designated as exhibits PTC/ 01/08 a and b.
The Petitioners also called another witness, Mary Nneoma Elijah, a major partner in the law firm Oma and Partners in Abuja.
She is the Petitioners’ Second Witness.
The Petitioners’ counsel tried to present her written deposition under oath as evidence, which the Respondents’ counsel objected to, using the identical reasons expressed in the previous stage.
The court accepted the document and deferred its decision throughout the hearing.
She also accepted the tribunal’s subpoena dated June 21, 2023, which was acknowledged and filed as exhibit PTC/01/09.
The petitioners’ lawyers wanted to provide the witness’ letter to INEC as well as INEC’s response, over objections from the respondents’ counsel.
However, the letters and discharged certificate were allowed as exhibits PTC/01/11 a, b, and c, respectively.
Also admitted in evidence despite objections was a letter addressed to the presiding justice of the Federal High Court, Lagos Division, requesting the production of an appointment letter dated 14 July 2003, appointing Barr. Peter Mbah as Chief of Staff to the then governor of Enugu state, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, in the same year he (Mbah) claimed he was serving.
During cross-examination, the first respondent’s counsel, Mr. Abdul Mohammed, who had applied for the subpoena, urged the tribunal to “confirm to this tribunal that the subpoena did not ask you about anything at the Federal High Court.”
PW2 replied, “True”.
Mr. Abdul Mohammed then asked the PW2 to “confirm to this tribunal that you gave the petitioners the contents of these letters when they were preparing this petition.”
The PW2 responded, “It’s false, the letters are public documents that are in the public domain.” Anyone can request the letters, and he will receive them.
The case has been rescheduled for Tuesday, July 11, 2023.