The Enugu State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal will today, Thursday, September 21, deliver judgment on the 2023 governorship election in the state.
A key focal point of this dispute is the authenticity of Peter Mbah's National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) discharge certificate, with the opposition Labour Party alleging that he did not fulfil his mandatory youth service obligations before assuming a political role in 2003.
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Tribunal dismisses LP's petition
The tribunal has affirmed the victory of PDP's Governor Mbah, ruling that he was qualified and duly elected with the majority of lawful votes cast in the 2023 election.
The tribunal also ruled that the March 18 election, which brought Mbah to power, complied with the provisions of the Electoral Act 2022.
The Labour Party and Edeoga's petition were dismissed for lack of merit.
NYSC certificate forgery allegation against Mbah dismissed
The tribunal has just dismissed the petition of Chris Agu of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) against Peter Mbah for alleged forged NYSC certificate, non-qualification, and corruption.
The PRP had claimed that Mbah entered a plea bargain with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in the past.
However, the tribunal chaired by Justice Kudirat Murayo Akano held that the petitioner failed to prove that Governor Mbah did not possess the minimum requirement to stand for election, which is a school certificate or its equivalent.
Regarding the plea bargain by Mbah, the tribunal averred that the exhibits presented by the petitioners did not show any plea bargain by the respondent.
According to the tribunal, the petitioner must provide the original certificate and the forged one to prove the issue of forgery.
The panel also resolved the issue that Mbah was not elected by the majority of votes cast against the petitioner.
The panel averred that witnesses called by the petitioners could not specify the polling units where the elections were not held nor the results of the same.
Enugu tribunal: Major issues to be determined
- Alleged electoral irregularities
Edeoga wants the tribunal to nullify the election of Governor Mbah, alleging that there were irregularities including over-voting and non-use of the Bimodal Voter Accreditation System during the election in the Nkanu East local government area.
- Mbah's NYSC certificate
The LP candidate also argued that Mbah should not have contested the election because he allegedly presented a forged NYSC certificate to INEC.
While Mbah repeatedly denied the allegation, authorities of the NYSC have insisted that the certificate possessed by the governor did not come from them.
Enugu tribunal: Brief summary
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on March 22, declared Peter Mbah, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as the winner of the 18 March governorship election in the state.
According to the electoral body, Mbah polled 160,895 votes to defeat his closest challenger, the Labour Party (LP) candidate, Chijioke Edeoga, who scored 157,552 votes.
The candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Frank Nweke Jr., garnered 17,983 votes to come third, while the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Uche Nnaji, came fourth, with 14,575 votes.
Dissatisfied with the outcome of the election, the LP candidate, Edeoga, filed a petition at the tribunal challenging the victory of Governor Mbah.