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By Onyiba Shepherdman Iyioku,

Enugu guber tribunal courtroom 

The people of Enugu State are anxiously waiting for judgement day. Any moment from now, the election tribunal will deliver its judgement on the petition by Labour Party candidate Hon. Barr. Chijioke Edeoga challenging the results of the governorship election declared by INEC as well as the qualification of Peter Mbah for the office of governor. Most ndi Enugu I’ve chatted with hoped the three-man panel of judges would ensure that justice is not just done but seen to have been done. All ears are open for the expected landmark judgement.

Table 1 showing how LP won Enugu guber election 

This piece is a reaction to the recent judgement of the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal (PEPT) that has prompted mixed reactions from lawyers, journalists, entrepreneurs, civil servants, artisans, etc. Many are of the opinion that when a matter before the court is determined on the basis of technicalities and not by incontrovertible facts and evidence, then, it is judgement that has been delivered and not justice that has been served.

In Enugu State, people know that Hon. Edeoga proved all the three grounds of his petition beyond all reasonable doubt while the court processes lasted.

They say that whereas the justices at the PEPT held that the petitioners couldn’t establish that Tinubu forged his certificate, because there was no witness from Chicago State University that disclaimed issuing the certificate in question, the Enugu petitioners (Edeoga and his party LP) proved that Mbah forged his NYSC discharge certificate. And that they did through the agency whose director, certification department, Mr. Ibrahim Muhammad, came to the court as a subpoena witness, tendered some disclaimer documents, and made a verbal disclaimer that Mbah’s NYSC discharge certificate was not issued by them.

The PEPT judgement is in agreement with the position of the Supreme Court in Oyetola vs Adeleke: it held that, for a petitioner to prove that his opponent truly forged his or her certificate attached to his or her INEC normination form, the institution in whose name such certificate was issued must disclaim same. What will seem like justice well served in Enugu State, therefore, is that the three-man panel handling the Enugu governorship election petition work with the facts, the evidence and the law.

Section 182 (1)j of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended, disqualifies the interim governor of Enugu State, Mr. Peter Mbah. The law finds him guilty of forgery and perjury, since he submitted a forged NYSC discharge certificate to INEC.

In the above first ground of Edeoga’s petition, disqualifying Peter Mbah will not just be justice done, but justice seen to have been done. Anything to the contrary (God forbid!) would be seen as judgement of irrational technicality, which could add insult to injury on the sensibilities of Enugu people and Nigerians at large who have all followed the Enugu case with keen interest.

Peter Mbah and Barr. Chijioke Edeoga 

The judgement of the PEPT also held that the petitioners couldn’t establish, with clear evidence, the polling units where they claim irregularities that resulted in suppression of their votes by INEC, describing the claims of the petitioners as vague. But, in Enugu State, the story is different: in grounds 2 & 3 of Edeoga’s petition, his lawyers were able to prove beyond all reasonable doubt that there was truly over-voting in the 10 polling units of Owo and Ugbawka areas in Nkanu East LGA, and the mathematical error of wrong tabulations of votes, all in favour of Mr. Peter Mbah of the PDP.

Hon. Edeoga, in his grounds 2 & 3, also proved his claims of over-voting by producing the voter registers of the 10 polling units of Owo and Ugbawka, the number of registered voters in each polling unit, the number of accredited voters on the day of the election in each polling unit, and the votes cast in each polling unit. He showed, through the INEC’s certified true copy (CTC) of BVAS report in the 10 polling units, how the over-voting was established.


The INEC officer, who through subpoena witness brought BVAS machines, told the court to rely on the CTC of the BVAS report in the custody of the petitioners as what is in the deactivated BVAS machines he brought to the court, thus affirming the claims of over-voting by the petitioners.

To worsen Mbah’s case, his witness-in-chief, Dr. Festus Uzor, during cross-examination by one of Edeoga’s lawyers, Chief. S.T. Hons, SAN, affirmed before the court that there was over-voting in the polling units showed him in the witness box, but he said that they were not enough to upturn the result of the election. His was an afterthought because the position of the law is that, where there is confirmed over-voting, the results recorded for the polling units affected should be cancelled outright.

Also on the ground 3, the polling units where there were mathematical errors and wrong tabulations of votes in favour of Peter Mbah are in Udenu and Igboeze North LGAs. The same witness-in-chief to the embattled governor, Dr. Uzor, also affirmed that wrong tabulations of votes in favour of the interim governor occurred, by the evidence showed him in the witness box.

The law is that, for a petitioner to prove that there was over-voting in favour of his opponent, he must show that through a BVAS report or, in the alternative, through BVAS machines in the affected polling unit(s); in Enugu’s case, Edeoga satisfied this requirement. In addition to his documentary evidence, he also produced polling unit agents in all the affected polling units who corroborated all their statements on oath via their documentary evidence.

So, going through all the proceedings in Edeoga’s case, one can see the legal maxim of “res ipsa loquitur”, which simply means “the fact speaks for itself”. One could be tempted to agree with ndi Enugu State and Nigerians at large that, in facts, evidence and the law, Edeoga and his party have proven their case reasonably enough, to the frustration of any shenanigans from any quarter. What is being awaited is for the honourable justices to serve Enugu people — and Nigerians who have shown interest in Enugu case — the justice well deserved. A miscarriage of justice would be tragic.

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