S’Court rules on certificate forgery suit against Bayelsa PDP senatorial candidate –

Nigeria’s Supreme Court in Abuja on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit against Konbowei Friday Benson, the Senate candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Bayelsa’s Central Senate District, for alleged forgery of certificates.

The Supreme Court ruled that since forgery of a certificate is a criminal charge, it must be beyond a reasonable doubt before legal action can be taken.

Another senatorial candidate from the same party, Senator Moses Cleopas, called for the disqualification of Konbowei Friday Benson for showing a fake secondary school diploma allegedly issued by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC).

He claimed competitors used fake certificates and false information to gain approval independent national electoral commission (INEC) and participates in the PDP senatorial primaries.

Prior to the ruling, the appellant was asked a number of questions, one of which was whether the WAEC had been summoned to verify the legitimacy of the certificate, but was answered in the negative.

The court rejected the appellant’s contention that the alleged genuine certificate was undated, signed and indexed as a reason that the WAEC should not be contacted for confirmation.

Although the appellant claimed the certificate was a worthless document, Judge Okoro, who presided over the proceedings, said the appellant should have done the right thing in contacting WAEC for verification because it bears the name of WAEC as the issuing authority.

The appellant’s request that the Lord Chancellor should invoke section 22 of the Supreme Court Act to address the issue was also dismissed on the grounds that the time for doing so had expired.

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Faced with reality, the appellant withdrew his appeal, which was subsequently dismissed by the Supreme Court.

According to a unanimous decision by Justice John Inyang Okoro, the court’s five-judge panel, the law makes it clear that any person or organization making an allegation must provide evidence before the court will take any action.

Senator Cleopas, currently serving as a senator for Bayelsa Central in the National Assembly, lost his campaign for re-election as a senator in May after Konbowei Benson defeated him in the PDP primary.

Benson, the party’s nominee for the two-time Bayelsa State House of Representatives, won the party’s nomination with 110 votes, defeating former PDP state chairman Cleopas, who received 22 of 132 votes.

He has filed a petition in the Federal High Court challenging Benson’s candidacy on the grounds that he submitted forged documents, and similar petitions to the Court of Appeal and the High Court.

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