The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), on Thursday arraigned a serving member of the House of Representatives, Nse Bassey Ekpenyong before Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court sitting in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State on a 9-count charge of forgery and uttering of documents.
The case may be a test run to other legislators like Senator Dino Melaye who was accused of certificate forgery but was subsequently cleared by both the Senate Ethics and Privillege committee as well as the Vice Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria.
Ekpenyong, member representing Oron Federal Constituency of Akwa- Ibom State in the National Assembly, was alleged to have forged an Abia State Polytechnic Ordinary National Diploma Certificate and uttered a December 1999 West African Examination School Certificate (WASSCE), and thereby committed perjury before an Electoral Tribunal where he claimed that the certificates were genuine.
Count one of the charges read:
“That you Nse Bassey Ekpeyong on or about the 22nd November, 2012 at Uyo within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did make a document to wit: Abia State Polytechnic National Diploma Certificate in Business Administration with Certificate No. 001181 dated 22nd November, 2012 with intent that it may be acted upon as genuine which you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (2) (c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act CAP M 17 of the Revised Edition (Laws Of the Federation of Nigeria) 2007 and punishable under Section 1 (2) of the same Act”.
Another count read:
“That you Nse Bassey Ekpeyong on or about the 18th December, 2014 at INEC Headquarters, Abuja within the jurisdiction of this Honourable Court did Utter a document to wit: West African Senior Certificate No. NGWASSCP 557610 with intent that it may be acted upon as genuine which you knew to be false and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 1 (2) (c) of the Miscellaneous Offences Act CAP M 17 of the Revised Edition (Laws Of the Federation of Nigeria) 2007 and punishable under Section 1 (2) of the same Act”.
The defendant pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the charges when they were read to him.
In view of his plea, prosecution counsel Ahmed I. Arogha and S. Hussaini, asked for a trial date and accelerated hearing of the matter. However, counsel to the defendant, Emmanuel Isangidoho, told the court that he had filed an application for bail for his client and urged the court to admit him to bail.
Justice Ojukwu granted the defendant bail in the sum of N10, 000,000.00 (Ten million Naira), with one surety in like sum. The surety must depose to an affidavit of means, provide 2 recent passports photograph and 3 years tax clearance certificate. The surety should write an undertaken to produce the defendant throughout the trial and all the documents of the surety must be vetified by the Registrar
Justice Ojukwu also ordered the defendant to be remanded in prison custody pending the perfection of his bail. The case has been adjourned to April 12 and 26 and May 3 and 4, 2017 for trial.