The National Assembly Elections Petitions Tribunal in Makurdi has declined the admission of a document (gazette) presented by Austine Asema Achado to rectify the disparities found in the names on his certificates submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Achado, a member of the All Progressives Congress (APC) representing the Gwer East/Gwer West Federal Constituency of Benue State, is currently facing a challenge at the election petition tribunal on allegations of certificate forgery. The certificates he provided to INEC bear different names, from his secondary school certificate to his Master of Science degree.
During the continuation of the hearing, Achado, while being examined by the APC’s counsel, Innocent Daagba, attempted to submit the gazette as evidence. However, Kenneth Ikonne, the counsel to the Petitioner, Emmanuel Ukaa of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), objected to its admission, citing the failure to front load the document as required by relevant sections of the Electoral Act and Evidence Act.
Daagba countered Ikonne’s objection by arguing that a gazette is a legal document and can be presented without front loading. In response, Ikonne urged the court to dismiss the argument put forth by the APC’s counsel.
Justice Amina Aliyu ruled in favor of Ikonne’s objection, agreeing that the gazette cannot be tendered without proper front loading. As a result, the application to submit the gazette as evidence was rejected.
During cross-examination by Ukaa’s counsel, Achado explained the inconsistencies in the names on his certificates. He stated that the variations were due to different times when he was known by different names, such as Achado Alfred Augustine, Austin Alfred Achado, and Achado Austine Asema. He clarified that Austin is his baptism name, while Alfred is his confirmation name, and Augustine and Austin are essentially the same.
However, the documents presented to the tribunal reveal that Achado’s West African Examination School Certificate (WAEC) submitted to INEC shows the name Achado Alfred Augustine, while his Interim Joint Matriculation Board (IJMB) certificate bears the name Achado Augustine Alfred, and his MSc certificate bears the name Austin Alfred Achado. Notably, his primary school certificate and first degree certificate were not stated or attached to his INEC form EC-9.
Furthermore, his certificate of state of origin displays the name Achado Asema Austine, while his declaration of age and his INEC form EC-9 show the name Austin Asema Achado.
In addition, Achado submitted a deed poll to the tribunal, dated September 30th, 2022, in which he declared that on March 7th, 2001, he swore an affidavit and changed his name from Augustine Alfred Achado to Austin Alfred Achado.
The tribunal adjourned the case to July 11, 2023, for the adoption of the final written address, allowing both parties to present their closing arguments.