18 February 2013

Nigeria: Case Against Nasarawa Lawmaker's Certificate Reopens in Lafia

Lafia — The alleged case of certificate forgery and falsification of age against Peter Mbucho, the member representing Akwanga-North constituency at the Nasarawa State House of Assembly (NSHA) has returned and re-opened at the Upper Area Court I in Lafia after travelling through three judges.

This followed the transfer of the matter from Chief Magistrate Court I to the upper area court.

Mbucho who is serving his second term in the House, was the last Majority Leader on the platform of the People's Democratic Party (PDP). He was first docked in September, 2011 at the Upper Area Court I after he was arrested by the police and subsequently arraigned following a complaint by one Halilu Haruna.

At the first court, where the state Ministry of Justice prosecuted the case, the first complainant alleged that Mbucho forged his academic records, and falsified his age.

The state counsel, Barrister James Arigu, who first prosecuted the case, had told the court that the lawmaker lacked the qualification to contest for the 2011 election because he allegedly falsified academic records and his age.

Mbuchu was in the court on a three count-charge of alleged criminal conspiracy, forgery and impersonation. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.

But the case suffered various setbacks, and at one time even struck out between Upper Area Court I and Magistrate Court II, before a new complainant, Aaron Sallau, who contested the election against Mbucho on the platform of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), went on a direct criminal summon against the lawmaker at the Magistrate Court I, in March of 2012.

Sallau, the new complainant, who told the court that Mbucho lacked the qualification to contest the election against him, alleged that the lawmaker carried out forgery, cheating, lying on oath, and is using as genuine, forged documents.

At the commencement of the case, Sallau's counsel, Yohanna Ogba Oka, informed the court that the matter was slated for mention and applied for application to effect some typographical errors in the particulars of the complaint.

The defendant, Peter Mbucho pleaded not guilty to all the allegations leveled against him.

The lawmaker's counsel, Barrister Iyima Dauda Atanyi prayed the court to grant the accused person bail, assuring that Mbucho will adhere to the conditions of the bail.

But the prosecution, Yohana Ogba Oka, urged the court to discountenance the defence counsel's application, on grounds that the accused person had continually committed the offence he has been standing trial for.

Ruling on the matter, the presiding sole judge, Abdullahi Hassan Sham Sham, granted the accused person bail on conditions that he would provide a surety with two of his passports, Bank Account details, the sum of N500,000 and must reside within the jurisdiction of the court.

The case has been adjourned to March 19, for hearing.

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