Ben Ezechime, Enugu
Governor Peter Mbah of Enugu State has urged the Federal High Court Abuja to commit the Director General of National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), Brig.-General Yushau Dogara Ahmed, to prison for disobeying court order.
The prayer was contained in a Form 49 filed through his lawyer, Emeka Ozoani, SAN, 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.
Mbah alleged that the DG flouted the order of the court made on May 15, restraining him from issuing, publishing or continued to issue, publish disclaimer to the effect that the NYSC certificate of national service dated Jan. 6, 2003, with certificate number: A.808297 issued to him was not issued by the corps.
“The plaintiff apply to this court for an order for your committal to prison for having disobeyed the order of this court,” it read in part.
In the Form 48 attached to the application, it read: ‘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 today (Friday) for motion, the court did not sit.
Consequently, the case was adjourned until July 4.
It would be recalled that, Mbah had sued the NYSC and its Director, Corps Certification, Mr Ibrahim Muhammad, for publishing a disclaimer denying the issuance of a discharge certificate issued to him on January 6, 2003.
Justice Ekwo had, on May 15, restrained the NYSC, Muhammad and any of their agents from, henceforth, engaging in such publication pending the hearing and determination of the substantive matter.
The order followed an ex parte motion moved by Mbah’s counsel, Mr Ozoani.
The judge, however, did not grant prayer two of the motion on the ground that it was said to be far-reaching.
He said that the second prayer was an issue to be adjudicated upon in the substantive suit.
Instead, Ekwo ordered that the defendants be put on notice.
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.
Mbah averred that after graduating in Law 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.
Mbah said upon completing the bar part I exam, he had to wait for the bar part 2 programme, and was advised that instead of spending time 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.
“Thereafter, the plaintiff was remobilised to finish the NYSC programme, which he did complete.”
Mbah further averred that upon completion of the NYSC, he was issued the certificate of National Service No. A.808297 dated Jan.6 2003.
But in a preliminary objection dated and filed on May 22 by the 1st and 2nd 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 Mbah did not appeal to the President as required by the provisions of Section 20 of the NYSC Act, Cap. N84, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004 before instituting the suit against them.
They argued that 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 crystalise,” they said.
The NYSC had, on Feb. 1, written a letter signed by Mr Ibrahim Muhammed saying that the NYSC certificate belonging to Mbah was not issued by the corps.
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.