Governor Peter Mbah has prayed the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court to jail NYSC director-general, Brig.-Gen. Yusha’u Ahmed, for disobeying a court order.
Mr Mbah made the request in Form 49, filed through his lawyer, Emeka Ozoani, before Justice Inyang Ekwo.
The application, dated and filed June 22, was filed in accordance with Order IX, Rule 13, Judgment Enforcement Rules of the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act, CAP. S6, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
The governor alleged that Mr Ahmed disregarded the court’s order made on May 15, restraining him from issuing, publishing or continuing to issue or publish a disclaimer to the effect that the NYSC discharge certificate dated January 6, 2003, with number A.808297 issued to him was not issued by the NYSC.
“The plaintiff applies to this court for an order for your committal to prison for having disobeyed the order of this court,” the document noted. The Form 48 attached to the application added, “Take notice that unless you obey the directions contained in this order, you will be guilty of contempt of court and will be liable to be committed to prison.”
Although the matter was scheduled for Friday (today) for motion, the court did not sit.
Consequently, the case was adjourned until July 4.
Mr Mbah had sued the NYSC and its director of corps certification, Ibrahim Muhammad, for publishing a disclaimer denying the issuance of a discharge certificate issued to him.
Mr Ekwo had, on May 15, restrained the NYSC, Mr Muhammad and any of their agents from engaging in such publication pending the hearing and determination of the substantive matter.
The order followed an ex parte motion moved by Mr Mbah’s counsel.
The judge, however, did not grant prayer two of the motion on the ground that it was said to be far-reaching. He said the second prayer was an issue to adjudicate in the substantive suit.
Instead, Mr Ekwo ordered that the defendants be put on notice.
Mr Ozoani had brought the motion under Section 13(1) & (2) of the FHC Act Cap F12, Vol. 6, Law of Federation of Nigeria, 2004, and Order 26 Rule 6(1) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules 2019.
The motion ex parte was predicated on 10 grounds.
Mr Mbah averred that after graduating from the University of East London in 2000, he returned to Nigeria and, as a pre-requisite to practice as barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria, applied and was admitted into the Bar part 1 programme of the Nigerian Law School.
The governor said that after completing the bar part I exam, he had to wait for the bar part 2 programme and was advised that instead of idling around, he should proceed to the mandatory one-year NYSC programme.
He said he was called up for NYSC and was deployed initially to Nigerian Ports Authority Apapa for his primary assignment but was rejected by NPA before securing the law firm of Ude & Associates.
“The plaintiff, in the course of his service year and after six months of NYSC, applied and was granted approval to defer the NYSC in order to enable him complete the bar final exam,” the court document filed by Mr Mbah’s lawyer stated. “Thereafter, the plaintiff was remobilised to finish the NYSC programme, which he did complete.”
The Enugu governor further averred that upon completing the NYSC, he was issued the certificate with number A.808297 dated January 6, 2003.
But in a preliminary objection dated and filed on May 22 by the 1st and second defendants, they prayed for an order dismissing or striking out the suit for want of jurisdiction and competence.
Giving three grounds of argument, the defendants said that Mr Mbah did not appeal to the president as required by section 20 of the NYSC Act, Cap. N84, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, before instituting the suit against them.
They argued that an appeal to the president was a condition precedent to instituting an action against them in any court of law in Nigeria.
“Consequent upon the refusal of the plaintiff/respondent to comply with the provisions of Section 20 of the National Youth Service Corps Act, this suit is premature for the jurisdiction of the court to crystallise,” they said.
The NYSC had, on February 1, written a letter signed by Mr Muhammad saying that the corps did not issue the NYSC certificate belonging to Mbah.
Mr Mbah of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was declared the winner of the Enugu state governorship election held on March 18 by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).