The joy of electoral victory was has been abruptly cut short and swiftly replaced by the fear of prosecution and punishment for a PDP politician, Christian Abah from Benue State, Nigeria.
This is because a Federal High Court in Abuja has on Tuesday, May 19,2015, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to nullify the Certificate of Return issued to Christian Abah for the Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo Federal Constituency seat in the House of Representatives at the forthcoming 8th National Assembly.
The Punch Newspaper reports that Justice Adeniyi Ademola, delivering judgment in a suit challenging Abah’s eligibility to stand for the election, held that the allegation of certificate forgery levelled against him by the plaintiff, Mr. Hassan Saleh, had been established to be true.
Abah is said to have forged an Ordinary National Diploma certificate in Accountancy, purportedly obtained from the Federal Polytechnic, Mubi, in 1985.
Justice Ademola’s findings revealed that an earlier judgement of the National/State Assembly Election Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Makurdi, delivered on September 6, 2011, and a letter by the Registrar of the polytechnic, Mr. Suleiman Buba, affirmed that the certificate presented by Abah to INEC was forged.
The court ordered the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, to immediately commence prosecution of Abah for forgery and perjury.
Abah, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, had been declared unopposed and elected since he was the only candidate presented by the party for the March 28, 2015 elections.
The court, in it’s judgement, declared all the votes that accrued to Abbah in the PDP’s primary, held on December 6, 2014, as wasted and also declared Saleh, the candidate who came second as the winner of the primary.
He ordered INEC to issue a fresh Certificate of Return to Mr. Saleh.
The court also ordered the incoming Speaker of the 8th National Assembly to swear in Saleh as the member representing Ado/Okpokwu/Ogbadibo Federal Constituency.
The court also berated the conduct of the counsel for PDP and Abah in the suit, Mr. S.I Ameh (SAN), for the frivolous applications and delay tactics he employed to stall the hearing of the case.
Justice Ademola therefore ordered that the processes filed in the suit and his judgement be served on the Nigerian Bar Association, the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee, the Legal Practitioners Privileges Committee with a view of taking appropriate sanctions against Ameh.
The judge also imposed a N450,000 fine on the three defendants – the PDP, INEC and Abah in favour of the plaintiff.
The court emphatically faulted both the INEC and PDP for promoting “the culture of impunity” by their failure to disqualify Abah from participating in the election in view of the court judgment that had since 2011 affirmed that he (Abah) presented a forged certificate for the purpose of standing for an election.