A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Monday, awarded N5 million in damages against the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) for alleging that the corps’ discharged certificate held by Gov. Peter Mbah of Enugu State was fake.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment, held that the Director General of the NYSC and the corps, who were defendants in the suit, were guilty of misrepresentation of material facts.
The judge held that the certificate presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by Mbah was authentic and validly issued by the NYSC.
Justice Ekwo further held that evidence before the court showed that the governor, though mobilized for service in 2001, completed his service in 2003.
According to the court, Mbah, midway into his service, sought and, after receiving permission from the NYSC to attend the Nigeria Law School, was reinstated into the NYSC in 2003.
Besides, the judge said that while the NYSC did not challenge the evidence that Mbah served in the law firm of one Udeh, he criticized the corps for not charging the governor for forgery if they believed that they didn’t issue the said NYSC certificate to him.
He concluded that the NYSC was mischievous and acted in bad faith by denying Mbah’s NYSC certificate.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mbah had sued the NYSC and its Director, Corps Certification, Mr Ibrahim Muhammad, for publishing a disclaimer denying the issuance of a discharge certificate issued to him on January 6, 2003.
Justice Ekwo, on May 15, restrained the NYSC, Muhammad, and any of their agents from, henceforth, engaging in such publication pending the hearing and determination of the substantive matter.
The order followed an ex parte motion moved by Mbah’s counsel, Mr Emeka Ozoani, SAN.
But the NYCS, in its preliminary objection dated May 19 and filed May 22, sought an order dismissing or striking out the suit for want of jurisdiction and competence.
Giving three grounds of argument, the corps said that 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.
It argued that an appeal to the president was a condition precedent to instituting an action against the defendants in any court of law in Nigeria.
According to the NYSC, 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.
The NYSC had, on Feb. 1, written a letter signed by Mr Ibrahim Muhammed saying that the corps did not issue the NYSC certificate belonging to Mbah.
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).