Suswam’s WAEC Certificate Forgery: Judge Gives Curious Ruling

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Gabriel Suswam

Gabriel Suswam

Heavy bribes and inducements believed to have been paid by Governor Gabriel Suswam to the High Court Judge trying his certificate forgery case seem to be working: the elections petition tribunal in Makurdi today threw out a case by the All Nigeria People’s Party candidate in the last governorship elections in Benue, Professor Daniel Saror.

Saror had approached the tribunal to invalidate Suswam’s victory at the polls on the grounds that he was not qualified to run for the office in the first place, and he brought overwhelming evidence of certificate forgery against the governor.

But determined to remain in office, the governor deployed various means at his disposal to delay justice in the case, just so it doesn’t add to his woes at the tribunal

Justice Munir Ladan, in his judgement on Saror’s petition, found a safe haven in technicalities, ruling that the forgery case was a criminal matter over which the tribunal lacked the powers to try or rule on. Furthermore, said the learned judge, since no court had yet convicted Governor Suswam on forgery, it was wrong for the tribunal to quash the governor’s electoral victory on that platform.

It will be recalled that Governor Suswam had been dragged to court by a member of his PDP party, Terver Kakih, who also contested in the PDP primaries with the incumbent governor. Kakih prayed the court to disqualify the governor on the grounds of certificate forgery and to recognize him as the true PDP candidate as he was the only one who had run against Suswam.

But heavy bribes allegedly paid by the governor have made it impossible for the case of forgery to see the light of day.  Although dates have been fixed for a ruling on five different occasions in the past, Judge Donatus Okworowa always came up with frivolous reasons to put the ruling on hold:

•    The first time, the judge claimed he was on vacation.
•    On the next date fixed for ruling, he cited the presence in the same court for trial of former Speaker Dimeji Bankole.
•    On the third date Judge Okworowa announced that his ruling was “not ‘ready.”
•    On the next date, set by him, he did not show up, claiming he was bereaved.

Justice Okworowa kept prevaricating in this way on the ruling until his final surprise a few weeks ago when he asked to be relieved of the case on account of ‘undue pressure.’

This development did not really come as a shock to followers, of the case many of whom are of the view that Justice Okworowa had been less than sincere and must have been heavily induced by the governor to withhold judgement in a grave matter in which the defendant had failed to provide defence.

It has become clear to observers that rather than defend himself, Governor Suswan’s strategy is to use bribes to delay ruling on the certificate forgery case for as long as possible in order to avoid being disgraced out of office and jailed.

On the election petition proper, the governor is not resting on his oars as he is using intimidation to get a favourable verdict. His goons intimidated and harassed the first tribunal judge assigned to Benue, Justice Daisy Okocha, who received various scary signals, including threats and the deflation of her car tyres at her hotel until she fled the case. The current judge, Munir Ladan, has had his fair share of threats and intimidation. Recently he had to report strong security challenges to the president, Court of Appeal, and asked for the tribunal sitting to be moved out of Benue State.

For a governor who has demonstrated a strong fear of electoral adjudication since his foray into politics, observers are of the view that Suswam is likely to employ more brazen and illegal methods to prevent justice from being served in the challenge of his election by the ACN’s Professor Steve Ugbah. An analyst, commenting on Suswam’s antics, has quipped: “Nowhere in the world has it been demonstrated that the law is an ass than what Gabriel Suswam is doing in Benue”

 

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