Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Forgery Case: Court Refuses To Disqualify Nyesom Wike From Participating In Gubernatorial Election

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The Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday dismissed a suit seeking an order disqualifying Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State from contesting the Saturday’s governorship election. The plaintiff’s prayer for Wike’s disqualification was anchored on an allegation that the governor forged his statutory declaration of age he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission for the 2019 governorship poll. Delivering judgment, Justice Inyang Ekwo held that the plaintiff not only failed to prove the allegation, the suit had become statute-barred because it was filed outside the time stipulated by law. Wike is seeking re-election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party in the Saturday’s poll. The plaintiff, Mr. Elvis Chinda, who hails from Rivers State, had filed the suit last year, faulting the statutory declaration of age allegedly attached to the Form CF.001 submitted to INEC by Wike. According to the plaintiff, the document deposed to on behalf of Wike on October 3, 1986, by one Collins Nyeme Wike, claimed that the governor hailed from Rumuepirikom in Obio / Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, when the said local government was only created three years after. The plaintiff, through his lawyer, Achinike William-Wobodo, claimed that the Obio / Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State was only carved out of Port Harcourt Local Government in 1989 by Decree No 12 of 1989. Dismissing the suit on Friday, Justice Ekwo held that the plaintiff failed to prove the allegation beyond a reasonable doubt as required of a case of forgery being criminal in nature. The judge held, “It is a criminal offence. The onus is on the plaintiff to establish ingredients of the allegation with credible and convincing evidence. “I find that the plaintiff has not proved the allegation against the first defendant (Wike) beyond every reasonable doubt or at all.” The court also held that by virtue of section on section 285 (9) of the 4th Alteration to the1999 Constitution, the case had become statute-barred on the grounds that it was not filed within 14 days after Wike submitted the Form CF 001 to INEC. The judge held, among others that there was no evidence that the plaintiff obtained the allegedly forged document from INEC, and as such lacked credibility. Photo Credit: Getty

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