A Federal High Court in Abuja has issued an order restraining the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) from further denying issuing the NYSC certificate being paraded by Enugu Governor Peter Mbah.
Justice Inyang Ekwo, in a judgment on Monday, held that evidence before the court showed the Mbah properly participated in the NYSC programme and that he was issued a certificate of completion.
Justice Ekwo held that the NYSC misrepresented facts in its claim that it did not issue the certificate Mbah submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before the last governorship election.
The judge faulted the NYSC for not producing before the court, two files containing information about Mbah’s participation in the programme, noting that it (NYSC) handled the case with levity.
He awarded N5 million in damages against the NYSC, and on favour of Mbah.
The judgment was on a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/ 611/2023 filed by Mbah, with the NYSC and Ibrahim Mustapha (Director, Corps Certification, NYSC) listed as first and second defendants.
The plaintiff had claimed that he participated in the NYSC scheme, completed and was issued a certificate of National service dated 6th January, 2003, with service No. A808297.
On their part, the defendants disclaimed the certificate, insisting that the NYSC certificate No. A808297 was not issued by the 1st defendant.
The defendants stated that Mbah was mobilised and called-up for National service in 2001 and posted to Lagos, but that some months into his service, he applied for deferment to enable him attende the Law School.
They added that after his Law School, he was reabsorbed, but never reported for service as he got appointed Chief of Staff to then Governor Chimaroke Nnamani of Enugu State.
Justice Ekwo, in holding that the defendant’s provided no evidence to support their claim, said: “Now, the evidence of the defendants that the plaintiff’s certificate with Number A673517 which he did not collect is said to have been issued in 2001 and the certificate was incinerated following a mop-up exercise of outdated, unused, and cancelled certificates of National Service and certificates of exemption, certificates of absconded members covering 1999 to 2004, is contrary to the evidence in this case.
“From the evidence in this case, the plaintiff completed his service in 2003 upon being reinstated and not in 2001.
“It is not possible for the 1st defendant (NYSC) to have pre-emptively prepared a certificate dated 2001 for a member of the service whose service was deferred in 2002 and was reinstated to completed same in 2003.
“Furthermore, there is no evidence of the defendants linking the said certficate with number A673517 to either the file with Ref. No. LA/01/1532 (which was the substantive file opened at the time the plaintiff joined the service) or file with Ref No 1 1832/T (which was a temporary file opened for the Plaintiff at the time he wes reinstated) after his deferment.
“It is these file that would have been a formidable foundation of the case of the defendants on which certificate it actually issued to the plaintiff.
“There is no evidence that the defendants also incinerated file with Ref. No. LA/01/1532 or file with Ref. No. LA/01/1532/T, in which case it would have been established that the files do not exist.
“It is the law that & is he who asserts that must prove. The failure of the defendants to tender either the file with Ref. No. LA/01/1532 or file with Ref. No. LA/01/1532/T or explain their respective whereabouts has dug a crater in the case of the defendants and has questioned their assertion that they did issue Exh. PW2 – A23. This is fatal to their case.
“On the other hand, the defendants can be deemed to have withheld these two pieces of evidence. The consequence of withholding evidence is well settled in the law.
“There is no evidence that file with Ref. No. LA/01/1532 or file with Ref. No. LA/01/1532/T are documents which are not in the custody of the defendants and there is no evidence that both files were disposed of during the incineration of 2603.
“The defendants have failed to proffer any credible evidence on the whereabouts of these files.
“I find that by non-production of file with Ref. No. LA/01/1532 or fle with Ref. No. 1A/01/1532/T means the contents thereof would have gone against the defendants in this case and I so hold.”
Justice Ekwo wondered why the NYSC that claimed it did not issue the certificate being paraded by Mbah failed to prosecute him for forgery.
the judge said: “A critical finding too is that fact that the defendants who daim not to have issued the plaintiff with Exhibits PW2 = A23 failed to lead evidence of forgery thereof by the plaintiff thereby not effectually challenging the assertion of the plaintiff.
“Upon assessing the case of the defendants, it thus appear to me that they have handled their case with levity or that the lacked the will-power to challenge the case of plaintiff.
“Upon considering the preponderance of credible evidence in this case, I find that the 1st efendant is the one that issued certificate of National Service No. A808297 dated 6th January, 2003 (Exhibit PW2-A23) to the plaintiff.
They (the defendants) had ample opportunity to give this court credible evidence to find otherwise, but failed.”
The judge proceeded to grant all the reliefs sought by the plaintiff and awarded N5million in damages against the defendants.
Some of the reliefs granted include a declaration that the plaintiff participated in the National Youth Service Corps scheme for one calendar year vide a call-up fetter number FRN/2001/800351; Lagos code LA/01/1532 and upon completion was issued certificate of National Service No. A808297.
*A declaration that “the defendants conspired by fraudulent design, suppressed and misrepresented facts in supposition that the plaintiff’s certificate of National Service with Certificate Number A808297 was not issued by the D
defendants, a fact they knew or ought to know as untrue, incorrect which act constitutes the tort of conspiracy.
*An order that the plaintiff’s certificate of National Service No. A808297 is authentic and was validly issued by the 1st defendant.
*An order of perpetual injunction is hereby made restraining the defendants either jointly/severally, their officers, servants in whatsoever manner and howsoever called from disclaiming/resiling/repudiating the certificate of National Service No. A808297 issued to the plaintiff, Barrister Peter Ndubuisi Mbah.