In a recent verdict, the Federal High Court in Abuja has ruled in favor of Enugu State Governor, Peter Mbah, dismissing allegations of certificate forgery against him. Additionally, the court has imposed a monetary penalty of N5 million on the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) for falsely asserting that Mbah’s discharge certificate was counterfeit.
Governor Peter Mbah had filed a lawsuit against the NYSC and its Director of Corps Certification, Ibrahim Muhammad, after they published a disclaimer, denying the authenticity of the discharge certificate issued to him on January 6, 2003.
The NYSC, in response, submitted a preliminary objection on May 19, subsequently filed on May 22, seeking the dismissal of the case on grounds of jurisdiction and competence.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, delivering the judgment on Monday, upheld the authenticity of the certificate presented by Mbah to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), confirming that it was valid and genuinely issued by the NYSC. The court further found the Director-General of the NYSC and the corps culpable of misrepresenting critical facts.
The court determined that during his service, Governor Mbah had sought and obtained permission from the NYSC to attend the Nigeria Law School. Subsequently, he was reinstated into the NYSC in 2003.
Justice Ekwo emphasized that, based on the undisputed evidence provided by the plaintiff regarding the issuance of his discharge certificate in 2003 after his service in a law firm in Lagos, and the failure of the NYSC to provide counter-evidence, it was evident that Governor Mbah had satisfactorily completed his mandatory one-year service.
Furthermore, Justice Ekwo stressed that the burden of proof in allegations of forgery rests with the NYSC, and in this case, they failed to substantiate their claims. The court ultimately found Governor Mbah’s evidence to be more compelling and credible.