A certificate forgery suit brought against a Senatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Bayelsa Central Senatorial District, Konbowei Friday Benson, has been dismissed by the Supreme Court on Thursday in Abuja.
The Apex Court held that certificate forgery, being a criminal allegation, ought to be and must be proven beyond all reasonable doubts before legal action can be taken on it.
Another Senatorial candidate from the same party, Senator Moses Cleopas had asked the Apex Court to axe his opponent out of the race on the ground that Konbowei Friday Benson paraded a forged Secondary School Certificate purportedly obtained from the West African Examination Council (WAEC).
He alleged that the opponent used the forged certificate and false information to secure participation in the senatorial primary election of the PDP and final clearance from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for nomination.
Before the judgment, several questions were put to the appellant among which were whether WAEC was contacted to confirm the authenticity of the certificate or not but the answer came in negative.
Desperate arguments by the appellant that the purported certificate bore no date, no signature and no index to justify why WAEC was not contacted for verification were resisted by the court as a non-issue and non-viable justification.
Although the appellant described the certificate as a worthless paper, Justice Okoro who presided over the proceedings said that the appellant ought to have done the right thing by contacting WAEC for verification since it carried the name of WAEC as the issuing authority.
Pleadings by the appellant that the Justices should invoke section 22 of the Supreme Court’s Act to resolve the issue were also rejected on the grounds that time for doing so had lapsed.
Faced with the reality, the appellant withdrew the appeal and was subsequently dismissed by the Apex Court.
Justice John Inyang Okoro in a unanimous judgment of a 5-man panel of Justices of the Court said the law was settled that anyone or group who alleges must establish facts for the court to act upon.
The serving senator representing Bayelsa Central in the National Assembly, Senator Moses Cleopas had in May lost his bid to return to the Senate for a second term as he lost the PDP primaries to Konbowei Benson.
Cleopas, a former state chairman of the PDP scored 22 out of 132 votes while Benson, the immediate past Secretary to the Bayelsa Government and two-term Speaker of the Bayelsa State House of Assembly, clinched the party’s ticket with 110 votes.
He had approached the Federal High Court to challenge the candidacy of Benson on grounds of submission of false documents but both at the High Court and the Court of Appeal on the same grounds.