Alleged birth certificate forgery: Court slates March 8 to decide suit against Wike

THE Federal High Court, Abuja on Tuesday fixed March 8, 2019, to deliver judgment in the suit seeking to disqualify Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State from contesting the 2019 governorship election in the state.

A Rivers State indigene, Elvis Chinda had filed the suit last year praying the court to interpret certain sections of the Electoral Act which deal with presentation of forged document to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by aspirants seeking clearance to contest an election.

The trial judge, Justice Inyang Edem Ekwo adjourned the matter for judgment after the plaintiff Counsel, Achinike William- Wobodo, INEC lawyer, Wale Ajayi and Governor Wike and PDP”s lawyer, Ferdinand Orbih (SAN) adopted their addresses in the matter.

Adopting the plaintiff’s written address, William-Wobodo urged the court to determine whether Certificate of Birth (Statutory Declaration of Age) attached to Gov Wike Form C.F.001 presented to INEC, purportedly deposed to on the 3rd October 1986 by one Collins Nyeme Wike from Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State was forged.

The counsel said that as at 1986, Obio / Okoor Local Government Area of Rivers State was not in existence because the local government in question was created in 1989 by Decree No 12 of 1989, two years after the alleged forgery was committed.

He said, the plaintiff only obtained the document from INEC a week before he filed the action, so the issue of status bar does not arise because he had brought the action within time.

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Plaintiff lawyer further stated that Wike breached the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) in his deposition titled : “Affidavit in Support of Personal Particulars of Persons Seeking Election to the Office /Membership of Governor( Form C. F. 001)on 29 October 2018 sworn to at the High Court Registry, Port Harcourt, which he submitted to INEC on the 2nd November 2018 for the 2019 governorship election.”

Mr Ajayi, the INEC lawyer did not respond to the plaintiff originating summons but filed and argued a preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit.

He urged the court to dismiss the suit because the court lacked jurisdiction.

Gov Wike’ s lawyer Orbih (SAN), also made similar submissions praying the court to dismiss the suit for lack of jurisdiction.

He said that the suit is status bar, having been filed outside the 14 days allowed by the 4th alteration to the Constitution.

He also maintained that the deponent of the said forged certificate of birth was not joined in the suit.

But, plaintiff lawyer urged the court to discountenance the defendant’s submission, adding that, “Anybody who present a forged certificate breach the law”.

Justice Ekwo, after listening to the submissions adjourned to March 8, 2019, for judgment.

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