Supreme Court has struck out the suit seeking to disqualify Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State from contesting the 2019 governorship election on grounds that he allegedly forged his birth certificate.
This was after the court unanimously upheld the two appeals lodged by Governor Wike challenging the leave granted Elvis Chinda by the Court of Appeal
In the lead judgment prepared by Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, but read by Justice Paul Galinje, the apex court set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal, which allowed Chinda to amend his notice of appeal.
The court held that the appellate court erred in law to have allowed the appellant to amend his notice of appeal several days after he ought to have done so.
It was the position of the the five-man panel of the justices of the Supreme Court that amendment of notice of appeal cannot be done outside the statutory period of time.
Specifically, the apex court held that the amendment, granted outside the time allowed for the appellant to file his appeal, violated paragraph 14(4) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act.
Consequently, the Supreme Court proceeded to allow both appeals filed by Wike and struck out the notice of appeal filed by Chinda before the Court of Appeal, which it said was defective.
The legal action, which commenced at the Abuja division of the Federal High Court, was instituted by Chinda, an indigene of Rivers State, who alleged that the birthday certificate Wike attached to the Form CF001 submitted to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on November 2, 2018, for clearance to participate in the general election, was forged.
In the suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/1430/2018, the plaintiff, told the court that the certificate entitled: “Statutory Declaration of Age,” attached to Wike’s Form C.F.001, and purportedly deposed to on October 3, 1986, by one Collins Nyeme Wike had claimed that Nyesom Wike at the time of deposition, was a native of Rumuepirikom in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State
“As at October 3, 1986, there was no local government area known as Obio/Akpor in existence in Rivers State.
“As at 1986, Rumuepirikom was not in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State, but in Port Harcourt Local Government Area of Rivers State being the parent council from where Obio/Akpor Local Government Area was carved out,” the plaintiff said.
He told the court that Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of Rivers State was created in 1989 by Decree No 12 of 1989, two years after the alleged forgery was committed.
“That the certificate of birth (Statutory Declaration of Age) was purported sworn to and issued at the High/Magistrate’s Court registry, Port Harcourt, but allegedly bears stamp of the Judiciary Probate Registry, Port Harcourt.
“There was no court registry, whether in 1986 or afterward known as High/Magistrate Court registry, Port Harcourt. No such registry existed or exists any where in Port Harcourt or Rivers State.”
The plaintiff said the forged birth certificate misled INEC into believing that Wike had a genuine birth certificate that confirmed his alleged date of birth given as March 13, 1963.
The court, in a judgment delivered by Justice Iyang Ekwo, dismissed the suit on the premise that the plaintiff failed to prove the allegation beyond reasonable doubt.
The court held that the allegation, being quasi-criminal in nature, ought to be proved beyond every reasonable doubt, a burden it said