Abuja court quashes forgery suit against Eremieyo
A federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court sitting in Bwari has dismissed a suit filed by Godsgift Eriaye of the Bayelsa Integrity Group against Senator Biobarakuma Wangagha Degi Eremieyo, representing Bayelsa East, to the effect that the later forged his academic qualifications and documents.
In the suit, which had the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, as 2nd Defendant, the claimant had sought a declaration “that the First School Leaving Certificate from the Ministry of Education of Government of Rivers State of Nigeria, with number RS/EV1/76/013360, from State School, Bassambiri, bearing the name Degi Biobaragha, which the 1st Defendant claims and has presented before various authorities as belonging to him and has obtained various benefits on account of same, including, in particular, his current membership of the Senate of the National Assembly of Nigeria, was not duly issued to and does not belong to the Defendant, but to another person by the stated name, and the use of same by the Defendant is unlawful and constitutes a forgery and falsification of same.”
He, therefore, asked the court to mandate the IGP to immediately commence criminal prosecution of Eremieyo.
The Supreme Court had on February 13, this year, in its judgment in a pre-election matter in respect of the Bayelsa State Governorship Election, affirmed a Federal High Court judgment, which decided inter alia, that Eremieyo was disqualified from participating in the election on grounds that he submitted forged and falsified documents and also made a false declaration to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in aid of his qualification for the election.
The judgment led to the invalidation of the election of Chief David Lyon as governor-elect of Bayelsa State and Eremieyo as deputy governor-elect.
However, the FCT High Court, presided over by Justice A.O. Musa, in its judgment of November 13, this year, whose Certified True Copy was made public yesterday, held that “the name Degi Biobaragha on the first school leaving certificate from Ministry of Education of Rivers State of Nigeria, with number RS/EV1/76/013360, from State School Bassambiri (now State School 1, Nembe) is an error and misspelling of the 1st Defendant’s name, Biobarakuma Degi.”
Justice Musa said notwithstanding the error in the spelling of the name, the certificate is genuine, belongs to, and was issued to the senator.
The court also declared that the name Adegi Biobakumo on the West African Examinations Council’s General Certificate of Education, Ordinary Level (O/L) of June 1984, with Certificate Number SG 851767, is an error and a misspelling of the 1st Defendant’s name, Biobarakumadegi, and that the certificate is genuine and was issued to Degi.
It further held that the Masters in Business Administration (NBA) Statement of Result from the Rivers State University of Technology (RSUST) dated February 14, 2002, bearing the name Degi Biobarakumawangagha is genuine, belongs to and was issued to no other person than the 1st Defendant.
It accordingly awarded the sum of ₦500,000 for Degi against the claimant, Eriaye.
Justice Musa also declared that there is no evidence so far to establish a prima facie case of forgery or any other crime at all against the 1st Defendant (Degi) to warrant his prosecution by the 2nd Defendant (IGP) in the circumstances.
He said by virtue of the Supreme Court judgment in Fawehinmi v. IGP & 2 others (2002), the 2nd Defendant or any Police officer at all cannot be compelled by a court to commence an investigation of any crime or prosecution of any perceived or suspected offender.
He consequently awarded the sum of ₦500,000 as a primitive cost against the claimant.
An attorney to Degi, Ebere Okonkwo, said the import of the court’s decision is that those documents that were submitted to the INEC and which also formed the basis of the information recorded in the INEC Form CF001 are genuine and not falsified.
“We hope that this judgment is a first step in lifting the huge and incapacitating burden and damage done to the reputation of the (Degi) Eremieyo, who, as we restate, is only the victim of a judicial mistake.
“We are confident that the judicial process is sufficient also to undo that grave error visited on him,” Okonkwo stated.