Achinike William-Wobodo Esq., a lawyer in Rivers State, has sued Governor of the state, Nyesom Wike, for allegedly forging his Age Certificate in documents he presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
William Wobodo instituted the law suit against Wike and INEC at the Federal High Court (Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1020/2018), pursuant to Section 182(1)(j) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
In the suit, he asked the court to disqualify Wike from participating in the 2019 Rivers State governorship election.
The complaint of the Applicant was that in 1999/2000, when Wike intended to contest for the Obio/Akpor Local Government Area Council (LGA) chairmanship election, he was less than 35 years, which was the minimum age qualification at the time for contesting the LGA Chairmanship.
In order to qualify himself for that election, Wike allegedly got someone who deposed to an Affidavit that he was born on March 13, 1963, which made him eligible for that election. In the said affidavit, allegedly made in 1986, there was copious reference to Obio/Akpor LGA, which was not in existence as of 1986. The LGA was only created in 1989.
Curiously, the affidavit, titled ‘Statutory Declaration of Age’, was also allegedly deposed to at the High/Chief Magistrate Court, yet had a stamp, purportedly of the Probate Registry. There was no identification or stamp of the person who allegedly administered the Oath as Commissioner for Oath as required by Oaths Act 1963. The Applicant alleged that the Governor had reasons to have known that the age declaration, which he presented to INEC as his Age Certificate, was forged — because even his date of birth earlier submitted in his documentation with INEC was December 13, 1967.
The applicant also claimed to have known the Governor from 1991, when they were both of the same Faculty of Law at Rivers State University of Science and Technology (RSUST), Port Harcourt, and that the Governor had always presented his date of birth as 13/12/1967. This, he said, made the Governor 50 years of age in 2017, and this was consistent with the Governor’s 50th birthday celebrations last year in Port Harcourt. By Wike's age declaration to INEC, he would have been 54 rather than the 50 he celebrated in 2017.
It was alleged that in the buildup to the 2015 governorship election in Rivers State, some social media platforms published that the Governor had an unresolved conflict around his age and threatened to publish same. It was in a bid to maintain consistency in his age that Wike re-presented the allegedly forged Certificate of Age to INEC, which has now put him into a stronger dilemma.
The applicant gave particulars of alleged forgery, which include: (1) that the document lied against/about itself; (2) that the content was made of manifest inconsistent, inexplicable and irreconcilable falsehood; (3) that the information regarding the age of the Governor is false, and to the knowledge of the Governor; (4) that the Governor intended that INEC should act on the document as genuine; (5) that INEC acted on the document as genuine; (6) and that the Constitution of Nigeria talks about presentation of forged certificate, it will be immaterial that the Governor claims he did not forge the document by himself.
A very close source to Wike, who asked not to be named, revealed that the Governor and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), were doing everything to suppress and frustrate the case. The source claimed that Wike admits that the case is a very bad one and that the timing has made the situation even worse.
Our source also revealed that the Governor had hoped that the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) would not have been able to decipher a cause of action from the certificate saga. He expressed shock that Wobodo was able to weave a very strong case out of the situation.
Wike and his team have resolved that their strategy would be to frustrate the case; right now, he has directed his personal staff not to receive service of any court processes.
SaharaReporters called Wike on his mobile phone to get his reaction, but he neither answered nor returned the calls.
The applicant was also contacted, but he simply said it was not time to speak on the matter.
“Please, this is not the time for me to speak about this matter,” he said. “My priority now is to serve the Governor and to have him appear in Court to respond to the issues. We can speak afterwards.”