2023 GOVERNORSHIP AND
STATE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY ELECTIONS
N20B Lawsuit: Court frowns at false media reportage of its proceedings, to hear NYSC’s objection to Gov Mbah’s suit
…strikes out LP, Edeoga’s withdrawn motion for joinder
The Federal High Court, Abuja, on Tuesday, fixed 11 July for hearing of the preliminary objection filed by the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) against a suit by Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu State.
Mr Mbah had filed his suit to seek the court’s validation for his discharge certificate disowned by the NYSC.
He filed the suit in May after the NYSC disowned the discharge certificate he claimed the corps had issued him after completing his national youth service in 2003.
Mr Mbah, in his suit, is seeking N20 billion in damages against the NYSC for alleged conspiracy, deceit, and misrepresentation of facts.
The NYSC, in its priminary objection, maintained it did not issue the certificate in Mr Mbah’s possession.
The judge, Inyang Ekwo, after fixing the date for hearing of NYSC’s preliminary objection, also ordered the organisation to file and serve their substantive statements of defence within seven days of the order.
The development followed an oral application by the defendants’ lawyer, Aminu Sadauki, asking fot about a week to respond to Mr Mbah’s substantive matter.
Mr Ekwo warned journalists against being speculative in the report of the case instituted by the Enugu governor against the youth scheme over alleged discharge certificate forgery.
The judge gave the warning after he struck out the motion for joinder filed by the Labour Party and its governorship candidate in the Enugu State poll, Chijioke Jonathan Edeoga, which they later sought to withdraw.
“The problem I have in this kind of thing is that persons that have not been made parties will go and start addressing the media on speculative issue and the media will start writing things when they have not read the proceedings.
“I have always told the media that proceedings in this court are open to the media.
“It is only in this country that you see those that said they are practising journalism becoming agents,” he said.
He, therefore, warned journalists to stop reporting what the court did not say.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Mbah had sued the NYSC and its Director, Corps Certification, Ibrahim Muhammad, for publishing a disclaimer, denying the issuance of a discharge certificate issued to him on 6 January 2003.
An NYSC discharge certificate is issued to Nigerian graduates aged 30 and below after they complete a mandatory one-year national service organised by the body.
The certificate is a prerequisite for degree holders to secure a formal job in Nigeria. Those above 30 are issued a certificate of exemption which is also tenable for securing a job.
But graduates who fail to participate in the NYSC scheme before clocking 30 are not entitled to an exemption certificate once they cross the eligibility age.
Academic and NYSC records of politicians appointed to or getting into public office usually attract public scrutiny.
While doubling down on the authenticity of the discharge certificate in his possession, Mr Mbah averred that after graduating in Law from the University of East London in 2000, he returned to Nigeria and, as a pre-requisite to practice as barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, applied and was admitted into the Bar Part 1 programme of the Nigerian Law School.
Mr Mbah said upon completing the bar Part I examinations, he had to wait for the bar Part 2 programme and was advised that instead of spending time idling around, he should proceed to the mandatory one-year NYSC programme.
He said he was called up for NYSC and was deployed initially to Nigerian Ports Authority Apapa for his primary assignment, but was rejected by NPA before securing a place at the Law Firm of Ude & Associates.
“The plaintiff in the course of his service year and after six months of NYSC, applied and was granted approval to defer the NYSC in order to enable him complete the bar final exam.
“Thereafter, the plaintiff was remobilised to finish the NYSC programme, which he did complete,” the governor’s filing read in part.
Mr Mbah further averred that upon completion of the NYSC, he was issued the certificate of National Service No. A.808297 dated 6 January 2003.
In a recent twist to the case, Mr Mbah launched contempt proceedings asking the court to jail the Director-General of the NYSC, Yusha’u Ahmed, a Brigadier-General, for allegedly violating an order restraining his agency from further making publications disowning the discharge certificate in issue.
But in a preliminary objection filed on 22 May, NYSC and its officials prayed for an order dismissing or striking out the suit for want of jurisdiction and competence.
Giving three grounds of argument, the defendants said Mr Mbah did not appeal to the President as required by the provisions of section 20 of the NYSC Act before instituting the suit against them.
They argued that the appeal to the President was a condition precedent to instituting an action against them in any court of law in Nigeria.
“Consequent upon the refusal of the plaintiff/respondent to comply with the provisions of Section 20 of the National Youth Service Corps Act, this suit is premature for the jurisdiction of the court to crystalise,” they said.
The NYSC had, on 1 February, written a letter signed by Ibrahim Muhammed saying that the corps did not issue the certificate in Mr Mbah’s possession.
Mr Mbah of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was declared the winner of the Enugu State governorship election held on 18 March by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Contents provided and/or opinions expressed here do not reflect the opinions of The Pacesetter Frontier Magazine or any employee thereof.
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