By Peter Okutu
ABAKALIKI—EBONYI State government yesterday applied to take over the trial of the Chief Whip of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Chike Imo Ogiji who is being tried on allegation of certificate forgery.
In a suit No MAB 33/C/2018, Ogiji was arraigned a month ago before an Abakaliki Magistrate court by the Nigeria Police for alleged forgery of his first school leaving certificate and primary school testimonial which he obtained in the state.
The offence is punishable under section 118 of the Criminal Code, cap C38 Laws of the federation 2004 and section 467 Cap C38 Laws of the federation as applicable in Ebonyi State.
The charges read: “that you Ogiji Chike Imo, on the 10th day of November, 2006 at Abakaliki, in the Magisterial district of the court did knowingly swore false affidavit touching on a first school leaving certificate, purportedly issued to you in the year 1984 by Community Primary School, Uduku Ettam Okpuitumo, in Ikwo local government area, Ebonyi State and thereby committed an offence punishable under section 118 of the criminal code cap C38 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 as applicable in Ebonyi State of Nigeria.
“That you Ogiji Imo Chike, between 2007 and 2015 at Abakaliki, in the Magisterial district of this court, did forge an entry schedule marksheet and state exams for Community Primary School, Uduku Ettam Okpuitumo in Ikwo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, for the year 1986 with intent that it may be used or acted upon as genuine and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 456 and punishable under section 467 of the Criminal Code Act, cap C38 Laws of theFederation of Nigeria 2004 as applicable in Ebonyi state of Nigeria”.
Ogiji pleaded not guilty to the charges as the trial Magistrate, Stella Ogoke granted him bail for N20, 000 and a surety in like sum and adjourned the matter to Monday, 11th June, 2018 for trial.
It was gathered that when the matter came up as rescheduled on Monday for hearing, the state government through the Department of Public Prosecution applied to take over the prosecution of the case.
When contacted, the accused, Ogiji, said it would amount to contempt of court to begin to discuss a matter that was already in a court of competent jurisdiction.
He noted that the concerns and fears allegedly being raised in some quarters of plot to scuttle the matter was unnecessary, saying that he personally wanted the matter to be expeditiously prosecuted so that the question mark placed on his certificate would be resolved without any form of contradiction.
According to him, I went to school very well and everything about the matter was politically motivated to distracted me from my political aspiration come 2019.
Also, the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barr. Cletus Ofoke who spoke to Vanguard on phone over government’s interest in the matter said he was still awaiting briefing from the legal practitioners who went to court over the matter.