I did not submit WAEC Certificate to INEC, Suswam tells Tribunal
Benue State Governor, Hon. Gabriel Suswam, has told the Benue State Elections Petitions Tribunal, sitting in Makurdi, the state capital, that he did not submit his West African Examination Council/General Certificate of Education WAEC/GCE certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Suswam, who made this disclosure on 14 th June, 2011, via reply to the petition, dated 17 th may, 2011, and filed against him by the candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the April general elections, Prof. Steve Torkuma Ugbah, challenging his re-election.
Based on the above, the ACN has filed a Motion on Notice, asking the Tribunal to declare Ugbah winner of the April 26 poll.
The Motion, dated 11 th August, 2011, is seeking “an order, entering judgment against the 1 st, 2 nd and 3 rd Respondents (Suswam, PDP and INEC) in respect of Ground Three of this petition in favour of the petitioners.”
Ground Three of the ACN petition alleges that the 1 st Respondent (Suswam) was not qualified to contest the April 26 gubernatorial election since he has no requisite qualification as the WAEC/GCE certificate he submitted to INEC, via the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was forged.
However, in his reply, submitted by his team of lawyers, led by Damian Dodo (SAN), of 14 th June, Suswam denied tendering any forged certificate to INEC.
He affirmed that although he stated the fact of having obtained a WAEC/GCE certificate from Government College, Makurdi, in 1982, he said he was not under any legal obligation to submit same to INEC.
Part of his reply reads: “The 1 st Respondent sat for the May/June WAEC/GCE O'Level examinations in 1982 at Government College, Makurdi, as successful at the said examinations, and was issue with a certificate, after which he advanced his educational development by obtaining an LL.B (Hons.) at the University of Lagos and a B.L. Certificate from the Nigerian Law School and was called to the Nigerian Bar.
“It is the case of the 1 st Respondent that he did not submit and was under no legal obligation to submit the said WAEC/GCE 1982 certificate to the 3 rd Respondent in 2011 having filled Form CF001 stating the fact of the said certificate.”
“On the whole, the 1 st Respondent pleads that all the issues raised in Ground Three of the Petition relating to Form CF001 are pre-election issues which the Honourable Tribunal lacks jurisdiction to entertain,” it adds.
But the reply is raising posers in the state, as to how INEC cleared Gov. Suswam if he did not submit the basic qualification for vying for governor which is GCE.
This is more so as INEC, in its reply, dated 8 June, described the allegation of forgery against Suswam as “trumped up.”
The Motion on Notice is arguing that since none of the replies of the 1 st, 2 nd and 3rd Respondents has listed any WAEC/GCE certificate tendered, whether valid or forged, it was clear that Paragraph 12 (3 of the 1 st Schedule of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) was observed in breach.
It is therefore praying the Tribunal to give judgment in favour of the petitioner.
On the 1 st, 2 nd and 3 rd Respondents arguments qualification or non-qualification for office is a pre-election matter, the ACN motion said the matter was a live issue after the election added: “the proper time to challenge the question of qualification to contest an election is after the election… as the process of election is not complete until the Tribunal gives its decision and it is affirmed on appeal.”
Simon Imobo-Tswam, Abuja