Leadership (Abuja)

7 March 2013

Nigeria: Forgery Case - Court Verdict, Triumph of Truth - Suswam

Benue State Governor Gabriel Suswam has described the judgement of the Court of Appeal in Makurdi, which dismissed the allegation of certificate forgery against him, as a vindication of his stance on the matter.

The governor said that the appellate court's verdict was a triumph of truth over falsehood, noting that the verdict had exposed his accusers as cheap blackmailers who were desperate to denigrate his hard earned reputation.

Speaking through a statement signed by his special adviser on media, Dr. Cletus Akwaya, Suswam said, "the governor is innocent of the baseless allegation of certificate forgery. The decision of the Court of Appeal has shown once again that he is a victim of dirty politics and blackmail which, unfortunately, has become a feature in Benue politics."

The Court of Appeal in Makurdi had on Tuesday dismissed an appeal by a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr Terver Kakih, challenging the propriety of the academic qualifications of Suswam as he claimed that the governor forged his SSCE certificate.

Kakih (the appellant) had contested the PDP primaries with Suswam in the 2011 gubernatorial election and lost.

But Kakih had dragged the governor to the Federal High Court in Markudi, claiming that Suswam was not qualified to be elected on the platform of the PDP.

In his verdict on the matter in July 2012, Justice Marcel Awokulehin dismissed the suit on the grounds that the court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain Kakih's case, saying that he failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt.

Dissatisfied, Kakih filed 10 -ground of appeal against the verdict of Justice Awokulehin, asking the appellate court to set aside the verdict of the lower court and grant his prayers.

But in its unanimous judgement delivered on Tuesday by a Justice of the Court of Appeal (JCA), Justice John Inyang Okoro, the appellate court dismissed Kakih's case for lack of merit. Four other JCAs also concurred with the judgment.

The JCA also ordered that Kakih to pay N50, 000 damages to Suswam and to the PDP.

Justice Okoro further held that court documents were serious documents, saying that such documents "should not be left in the hands of a carpenter to prepare and read".

The JCA further held that the appellate court lacked the legal backing to entertain Kakih's appeal.

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