Court fines NYSC N5 million for claiming Governor Mbah’s certificate is fake

The Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) to pay N5 million in damages for falsely claiming that the discharge certificate of Enugu State Governor, Peter Mbah, was counterfeit.

Justice Inyang Ekwo, who presided over the case, found the NYSC and its Director General, the defendants in the case, guilty of misrepresenting material facts.

The court confirmed that the certificate presented by Governor Mbah to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was indeed authentic and had been validly issued by the NYSC.

The court further established that Governor Mbah, who was mobilized for service in 2001, completed his service in 2003. It was revealed that the governor had sought and received permission from the NYSC to attend the Nigeria Law School midway through his service and was subsequently reinstated into the NYSC in 2003.

Justice Ekwo criticized the NYSC for not charging the governor for forgery if they truly believed that they hadn’t issued the said NYSC certificate to him. The judge concluded that the NYSC acted in bad faith and was mischievous in denying Governor Mbah’s NYSC certificate.

Governor Mbah had previously sued the NYSC and its Director of Corps Certification, Mr. Ibrahim Muhammad, for publishing a disclaimer denying the issuance of a discharge certificate to him on January 6, 2003. On May 15, Justice Ekwo issued a restraining order against the NYSC, Muhammad, and any of their agents from engaging in such publication pending the hearing and determination of the substantive matter.

The NYSC, in its preliminary objection dated May 19 and filed on May 22, sought an order dismissing or striking out the suit for lack of jurisdiction and competence. The corps argued that Governor Mbah did not appeal to the president as required by the provisions of Section 20 of the National Youth Service Corps Act, Cap N84, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 before instituting the suit against the defendants. According to the NYSC, this made the suit premature for the jurisdiction of the court to crystallize.

On February 1, the NYSC had written a letter signed by Mr. Ibrahim Muhammed stating that the corps did not issue the NYSC certificate belonging to Governor Mbah. Despite this controversy, Governor Mbah of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was declared the winner of the Enugu state governorship election held on March 18 by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

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