Gov. Mbah – My hands are clean
The Department of State Services (DSS) has debunked claims by the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC), to the effect that the governorship candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 general election and incumbent governor of the state, Dr. Peter Mbah, forged his NYSC discharge certificate.
The Nigeria secret police indicted the NYSC of shoddy and hasty investigation in coming to the conclusion that Mbah’s NYSC discharge certificate was fake, saying that certificates in Mbah’s series were found to have been issued to corps members in Lagos, contrary to NYSC’s claim.
It frowned at the NYSC’s misplacement of Mbah’s original file and opened a temporary one for him, noting that NYSC was also unable to trace to whom or which state or states of the federation 12 of its certificates, A808297 to A808308 were issued.
The security agency said “the failure of the NYSC to maintain a proper record keeping system was the cause of its inability to trace Peter Ndubuisi Mbah’s initial certificate”, adding “It would be wrong for the NYSC to blame Peter Ndubuisi Mbah for its own failure in record keeping”.
The DSS made these known in a Statement on Oath adopted by its representative, Mr. Yahaya Isa Mohammed, at the ongoing Enugu State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal as Mbah called two witnesses to open his defence on Wednesday.
Giving evidence, the subpoenaed DSS Deputy Director, Operations and Strategic Department, said the security agency commenced investigation into the discharge certificate controversy following a petition to it by Dr. Mbah dated February 8, 2023.
Mohammed said the investigation revealed: “That there were exchanges of correspondences between Mbah and the NYSC at every stage of their interactions. Mbah did not take any action without the NYSC’s approval.
“That Mbah’s file with the NYSC got missing at some point in time and NYSC started using a temporary file for him. For instance, in NYSC response to his application for deferment, the file number was LA/10/1532, while in their response to his remobilization application, the file number was LA/01/1532/T.
He added: “That there was a mix up in his record as a result of the missing file.
“That the difference in Mbah’s certificate number compared to others that were mobilized at the same time, is due to the inability of NYSC to trace the initial file where the first certificate A678 was.
According to him, “from the documents presented by NYSC regarding certificate numbers, about twelve (12) certificate numbers (A808297-A808308) which includes that of Mbah, remained unaccounted for in the eight (8) series by the NYSC.
Mohammed further stated, “That the law firm, Udeh &Associates, where Mbah served, cleared him for his monthly clearance for eleven (11) months covering January-June, 2002 and May-August, 2003 as well as his final clearance in September, 2003, covering the period of his first mobilization and re-instatement indicated that he served;hence, no need for him to forge certificate.
“That NYSC did not do a thorough job before concluding that the certificate Mbah presented was fake.
“That the Director Corps Certification (Ibrahim Muhammad) failed to exploit all available avenues to ensure that due diligence was done before issuing a statement on the matter.
“That against NYSC claim that “8 Series” Certificates were not issued in Lagos State, upon insistence by the service for them to check their records properly, certificates in that series were discovered to have been issued to some corps members who served in Lagos State.
“That NYSC did not have a proper record. This resulted in the misplacement of Mbah’s initial file by NYSC and the use of temporary file for him as well as its inability to trace whom or which State(s) twelve (12) of its certificates (A808297 to A808308) were issued.
“That all through Mbah’s service year, from the first mobilization to his service reinstatement after his Bar final examination, Udeh & Associates where he did his primary assignment, issued him clearance letters on a monthly basis.
“That NYSC certificate series are not based on state of service, as all certificate series including the “8-Series” were issued in all the states of the federation as against NYSC’s claim that its certificates series were state-based.
“That the claim by Muhammad (NYSC Director of Corps Certification) that Mbah’s supposed ‘6-Series’ certificate was part of the certificates shredded/destroyed by the NYSC negates the claim that he did not serve, as it is impossible to produce the said shredded certificate for Mbah, if he did not serve”
Continuing, the DSS said if further found: “That the failure of the NYSC to maintain a proper record-keeping system was the cause of its inability to trace Peter Ndubuisi Mbah’s initial certificate”, adding that “it would be wrong for the NYSC to blame Peter Ndubuisi Mbah for its own failure in record- keeping”.
The agency, therefore recommended: “That the NYSC should retract its initial letter that Peter Ndubuisi Mbah’s certificate was not issued by it, as it has failed to trace its records for twelve (12) certificates (A808297-A808308), inclusive of Peter Ndubuisi Mbah’s.
“That the NYSC, the petitioner as well as other relevant action agencies such as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) be intimated about the outcome of the investigation.
“That the NYSC be requested to explain how twelve (12) certificates with serial numbers (A808297 to A808308) are still unaccounted for, as well as be requested to trace the said certificates”.
Meanwhile, the DSS said it came to its conclusion relying, among others, on the verified documents submitted by Dr. Mbah and the NYSC, most of which are one and the same.
Documents tendered by Mbah, according to the agency, were: Correspondence between Mbah and the NYSC at every stage of their interactions; Mbah’s call up letter with Serial Number: 0134613, Reference Number: NYSC/FRN/2001/800351 and deployment State – (Lagos State); Mbah’s posting letter with reference number LA/01/1532 to Udeh & Associates for his primary assignment
Mohammed said Mbah signed monthly clearance letter for 11 months from Udeh & Associates law firm, Lagos; signed final clearance letter from Udeh & Associates law firm, Lagos dated September, 2003; Mbah’s application for deferment of his service year; NYSC’s approval of his application for deferment; Mbah’s application for reinstatement to complete his service;
NYSC’s approval of his application for reinstatement (with Reference Number: LA/01/1532/T): letter from Udeh & Associates law firm in Lagos, confirming that Mbah served with the firm and ensuing clearances including the final clearance were issued to him; and Mbah’s NYSC Certificate of National Service with number A808297.
Lead Counsel to Labour Party and petitioner against Mbah,2nd Respondent in the matter, Chief Awomolo Adogoke, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), had during the cross examination sought to know from the DSS representative, Mr. Yahaya Isa Mohammed, if his coming was official and authorised by the Director-General of the agency, which the witness responded in the affirmation.
He said he was in court following the subpoena by the tribunal.
Addressing pressmen, one of the counsels to Mbah, Mr. Ikechukwu Onuoma, said all the allegations raised against his client had been convincingly debunked by the two witnesses.
“Today, during the proceedings, we had opened our case with evidence by Dr. F.S.A Uzoh adopting the Statement on Oath. He gave evidence in the areas in dispute as the State Collation Agent.
“We also had the second witness, Isa Mohammed, who is a staff of the DSS. He investigated the alleged certificate, which the petitioners stated was not issued by the NYSC. And he also debunked that allegation clearly in the witness box.
“With these two witnesses, we think that we fielded credible witnesses in order to debunk the two grounds. And these two grounds are first, the grounds of non-qualification as alleged by the petitioner. The second is the ground of alleged non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act. And we think that these two witnesses have sufficiently debunked those allegations and with that we have closed our case for the 2nd Respondent, Dr. Peter Mbah”.