Daji Sani in Yola
A Judge of the Federal High Court in Yola, Justice Abdulaziz Anka, has stepped down as the presiding judge on the case of alleged forgery of West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) certificate against Governor Muhammadu Umaru Jirilla of Adamawa State.
The alleged certificate forgery case was first filed at the Federal High Court in Abuja in September last year by a group, Global Integrity Crusade Network (GICN), which claimed that, Governor Bindow did not complete his secondary education at the Government Secondary School, Miango in Plateau State .
The group had accused the governor of forging the certificate he was using and approached the court to determine the qualification or otherwise of Bindow for re-election as governor in the coming general election.
However the case was first heard in a Federal High Court in Abuja in October last year by Justice B.O.Quadiri who granted the plaintiff’s plea for accelerated hearing, but the case was subsequently transferred to Yola where the first respondent resides.
But to the surprise of all in the court room in Yola yesterday, Justice Anka after having a brief meeting with both the defence and prosecution counsels in his chambers explained that for personal reasons, he could not continue with the case but would return it to the chief judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja to reassign it to another judge.
“Justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done,” Anka said, reiterating that after hearing from the counsels and reviewing what had become apparent, he was uncomfortable about continuing with the case.
Reacting to the withdrawal from the case, the chief counsel to Governor Bindow, Chief Chris Uche (SAN), told journalists that his client was ready to follow the case to anywhere it may be taken.
“As we said in the open court, we are ready for the hearing of the case to continue, but the judge recused himself from the case and it is being sent back to Abuja. Wherever they take us, we will go,” he said.
He added however, that the case lacked merit and had no chance of going far. “From when this case was first filed in Abuja, we raised the objection that the plaintiff (GICN) is an artificial person who has no locus standi to institute the case. The plaintiff was not an aspirant and is not a citizen of Adamawa State and has no business challenging Bindow as the candidate of the APC for the forthcoming election,” Uche asserted.
Responding in a separate interview, the counsel to GICN, Edward Omaga, said the Global Integrity Crusade Network is an advocacy group registered by Nigeria’s Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) to carry out its functions for or against persons and organisations anywhere across the country, and could therefore not be said to lack locus standi in the suit against the Adamawa State Governor.