On Friday, the Labour Party, LP, began its case against Barr Peter Mbah’s election as governor of Enugu State.
At the Enugu State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal, LP and its candidate Barr Chijioke Edeoga presented their case.
The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) was the LP’s first witness when the trial restarted.
The NYSC has submitted a number of documents to INEC, including the allegedly forged discharge certificate, the original certificate Mbah was responsible for collecting, and a letter from the Abuja law firm Oma and Partners requesting an investigation into the discharge certificate submitted by the governor.
Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, Ifeanyi Ogenyi Esq, Dr. Valerie Azinge, SAN, and others on the side of the petitioners gave testimony as Petitioners Witness 1 (PW1).
Aliyu Abdul Mohammed, the Director of Certification for the NYSC, has adopted his sworn written deposition and is the first witness for the petitioners.
Awomolo hoped to present the sworn testimony of the witness through a deposition.
Barr Anthony Ani, SAN, representing the PDP as the third respondent, opposed to the document’s admissibility and filed a motion on the 7th of July 2023, asking the tribunal to throw out the PW1’s written deposition under oath on the grounds of incompetence.
Both INEC, the first respondent, and Peter Mbah, the second respondent, agreed with Ani’s argument and asked the court to throw out Mohammed’s (PW1) written deposition for lack of competence.
Counsel for the respondents moved to strike out PW1’s written statement under oath, arguing that it lacked competence in light of the Court of Appeal’s decisions in ANDP & anor V INEC and Damina & anor V Adamu & anors.
The lawyers for the petitioners then sought the court to admit the PW1’s sworn written deposition, arguing that the case of Ararume & anor V INEC contradicts the authority cited by the lawyers for the respondents.
In a swift verdict, the court accepted the document at issue and postponed its decision on the respondents’ concerns.
The PW1 was then subjected to an incisive round of cross-examination.
Mohammed testified before the tribunal that he had appeared in response to a subpoena placed on the Director General of the NYSC or any other official to come before the tribunal and give evidence to resolve some concerns about the authenticity of the certificate.
Respondents did not raise any objections, so the subpoena was entered into evidence as exhibit PTC/01/06.
Mohammed also submitted his NYSC staff ID card, which was entered into evidence as exhibit PTC/01/07.
Paragraph three (3) of the sworn testimony of the Petitioners’ Witness states that the witness complied with the tribunal’s subpoena by appearing in court with both the official discharge certificate from the governor and the copy that was reportedly supplied to him.
Counsel for the respondents raised objections to the documents’ admission but said they would save their explanations for their closing briefs.
The court accepted the documents into evidence, and they were catalogued as exhibits PTC/ 01/08 a and b.
Mary Nneoma Elijah, a partner at the law firm Oma and Partners and a lawyer in Abuja, testified on the Petitioners’ behalf.
She is the second witness for the petitioners.
The petitioners’ attorney attempted to submit her sworn written deposition as evidence, but the respondents’ attorney objected on the identical grounds as were made in the preliminary hearing.
The judge accepted the evidence but postponed a decision.
In addition, she admitted and marked as exhibit PTC/01/09 the tribunal subpoena dated 21 June 2023.
Petitioners’ counsel attempted to offer the witness’s letter to INEC and INEC’s response notwithstanding objections from respondents’ counsel.
The letters and discharge papers were admitted, nonetheless, and numbered as Exhibits PTC/01/11a, b, and c.
Barr. Peter Mbah’s appointment letter as Chief of Staff to then-Governor of Enugu State, Dr. Chimaroke Nnamani, dated 14 July 2003, was also admitted in evidence as exhibit PTC/01/13 a&b despite objections and was marked as such. The letter was addressed to the presiding justice of the Federal High Court, Lagos Division.
The attorney for the first respondent, Mr. Abdul Mohammed, who applied for the subpoena, requested him to “confirm to this tribunal that the subpoena did not ask you about anything at the Federal High court” during cross examination.
PW2 agreed, saying, ” True.”
Confirm to this tribunal that you have given to the petitioners the contents of these letters at the time they were preparing this petition, Mr. Abdul Mohammed continued his questioning of PW2.
As a response, the PW2 stated, “It’s wrong, the letters are public papers which are in the public domain. The letters are available to anyone who asks for them.
The court postponed the hearing until Tuesday, July 11, 2023.
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