What has being a rumor in Rivers State about Governor Nyesom Wike presenting a forged Certificate of Age to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has taken a live of its own as one Achinike William-Wobodo Esq., an electorate in Rivers State and also a Lawyer, has dragged INEC and the Governor to the Federal High Court (Suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/1020/2018). The case was brought pursuant to Section 182(1)(j) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), seeking the Court to disqualify Barr. Nyesom Wike, Governor of Rivers State from participating in the 2019 General Governorship Election.
The complaint of the Applicant was that in 1999/2000, when Nyesom Wike intended to contest for the Obio/Akpor Local Government Area Council (LGA) Chairmanship Election, he was less than 35 years which was the announced age at the time for LGA Chairmanship. In order to qualify himself for that election, Mr. Wike procured someone who deposed to an Affidavit that he was born on 13th March, 1963, which made him eligible for that election. The said affidavit was allegedly made in 1986 and wherein copious reference was made of Obio/Akpor LGA, which was not in existence as at 1986. The LGA was 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 documentations with INEC was 13th December 1967. The Applicant also claimed to have known the Governor from 1991, when they were both of the same Faculty of Law in the Rivers State University of Science and Technology, Port Harcourt and that the Governor had always presented his date of birth as 13/12/1967, that this made the Governor 50 years of age in 2017, and that this was consistent with the Governor’s 50th Birthday Celebrations last year in Port Harcourt.
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 Governor Wike represented the forged Certificate of Age to INEC, which has now put him into a stronger dilemma.
The Applicant gave particulars of forgery, which includes: (1) that the document lied against/about itself, (2) that the content was made of manifest inconsistent, inexplicable and irreconcilable falsehoods, (3) the information regarding the age of the Governor was 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) 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, etc.
A very close source to Governor Ezenwo Nyesom Wike, who spoke on condition of anonymity revealed that the Governor and his Party (PDP) are doing everything to suppress and frustrate the case. The source added that Governor 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 APC would not have been able to decipher a cause of action from his said certificate saga. He expressed shock that Mr. Wobodo was able to weave a very strong case out of the situation.
Governor 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.
A call to the Governor Wike on his mobile phone did not yield any results as he failed to take or return his call.
When the Applicant was contacted, 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. My priority now is to serve the Governor and to have him appear in Court to respond to the issues. We can speak afterwards.”
Below are some key pages from the over 1000 page Court Process.