December 4, 2020

Forgery: Abuja Court quashes suit against Bayelsa Senator, Degi Eremieyo

Nigeria’s Judiciary

By Omeiza Ajayi

A Federal Capital Territory FCT High Court sitting in Bwari has dismissed a suit filed by Godsgift Eriaye of the Bayelsa Integrity Group against Sen. Biobarakuma Wangagha Degi Eremieyo representing Bayelsa East, to the effect that the latter forged his academic qualifications and documents.

In the suit which had the Inspector General of Police IGP, Mohammed Adamu as second defendant, the claimant had sought a declaration “that the First School Leaving Certificate from 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 had consequently asked the court to mandate the Inspector General of Police IGP to immediately commence criminal prosecution of Sen. Degi.

The Supreme Court had on 13th of February 2020, in its judgement in a pre-election matter in respect of the Bayelsa State Governorship Election, affirmed a Federal High Court Judgement which decided inter alia, that Senator Biobarakuma Wangagha Degi Eremieyo, is disqualified from participating in the election on grounds that he submitted forged and falsified documents and also made false declaration to the Independent National Electoral Commission in aid of his qualification for the election.

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The judgement led to the invalidation of the election of Chief David Lyon as Governor-elect for Bayelsa State and Sen. Degi as Deputy Governor-elect.

However, the FCT High Court presided over by Justice A.O Musa in its judgement dated November 13, 2020 whose certified true copy was made public on Friday, 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 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 Sen. Degi.

It further held that the Masters in Business Administration Statement of Result from Rivers State University of Technology dated 14th February 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 Sen. 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 (Sen. 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 Court to commence investigation of any crime or prosecution of any perceived or suspected offender.

He consequently awarded the sum of ₦500,000 as primitive cost against the claimant.

An attorney to Sen. Degi, Ebere Okonkwo said the import of the court’s decision is that those documents which were submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission and which also formed the basis of the information recorded in the INEC Form CF001, are genuine and not falsified.

“We hope that this judgement is a first step in lifting the huge and incapacitating burden and damage done to the reputation of the Distinguished Senator Degi Eremieyo, who as we restate is only the victim of a judicial mistake and we are confident that the judicial process is sufficient also to undo that grave error visited on him”, Okonkwo stated.

Vanguard News Nigeria