The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on Tuesday declined an application for an interlocutory injunction seeking to restrain the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) from appearing to give evidence before the Enugu State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal.
At the resumed hearing of the suit, number, FHC/ABJ/CS/611/2023, counsel to the Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu State, Emeka Ozoani, sought to move an application for the restraining order on the certificate, No. A808297, presented by Peter Mbah to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The interlocutory injunction is a court order to compel or prevent a party from doing certain acts pending the final determination of the case. It is usually issued to maintain the status quo until judgment can be made.
This would have meant that the NYSC would have been prevented from making any commentary, written or oral about the contentious discharge certificate until whichever time the case is determined by the court.
The judge, Inyang Ekwo, on May 16, 2023 issued an ex parte order restraining the NYSC from making any further publications concerning Mbah’s NYSC discharge certificate, a development that elicited wide negative reactions from Nigerians. However, Justice Ekwo appeared in a hurry to remedy the earlier ex parte it issued, barely waiting for Ozoani to finish speaking before cutting him short to say that his court will not entertain any such application.
He told Gov. Mbah’s counsel to forget about the injunction and concentrate on the main suit and adjourned the case to July 11, 2023, to hear the preliminary objection challenging the competence of the suit filed by the NYSC.
With this development, the coast is clear for the NYSC to appear before the Election Petition Tribunal Enugu on 7th July 2023 to give evidence that the discharge certificate tendered by Governor Mbah to INEC, as part of prequalification for governorship, was not issued by the body.
It will be recalled that following a Freedom of Information Act application by a law firm, Omas and Partners, the NYSC had issued a letter repudiating the Enugu Governor’s discharge certificate, a development that led the embattled governor to initiate a suit against the body.
The issue of the controversial discharge certificate is one of the five grounds on which the Labour Party and its candidate in the 2023 Governorship elections in Enugu, Barr Chijioke Edeoga, are seeking to disqualify Mbah and remove him from office as Governor. But the NYSC, in its response at the Abuja Court, had filed a slew of evidence to prove that Mbah actually forged his discharge certificate.
In a deposition at the Federal High Court, Abuja, deposed to by the Assistant Director in the Corps Certification Department, Rhoda Dawa, NYSC submitted, among other things, the alleged forged certificate Mbah submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, a photocopy of the original copy of the certificate that was to be issued to Mbah, a date sheet showing where discharged corps members signed for their certificates, another data sheet with the names of unclaimed certificates, official circulars authorizing the destruction of unclaimed certificates, photographs of the incineration of the unclaimed discharge certificates, samples of the NYSC discharge certificates during the period the governor was supposed to have performed his compulsory national service, Police and Directorate of State Services letters of investigation, among others.
Governor Mbah had, in his court filings, claimed that he duly completed his national youth service and was given a certificate of discharge, and had taken the NYSC to court, claiming N20 billion for what he described as conspiracy, deceit, and misrepresentation of facts.
Apart from N20 billion damages, Mbah is seeking a declaration that he participated in the NYSC scheme for one calendar year via a call-up letter numbered FRN/2001/800351 with the Lagos code LA/01/1532. He also argued that the declaration must state that he was issued a certificate of national service numbered A808297 upon completing his service year in 2003.
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