With Agency Report — Governor Godwin Obaseki will on Tuesday, open his defence on the allegation of certificate forgery levelled against him by the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the wake of his victory in the last gubernatorial election in Edo State.
The ramifications of the forgery case cannot be overemphasized for Obaseki who is currently seating on a knife edge after battling the high and mighty to get a second term following the mouthwatering election in Edo.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress, APC, on Monday, closed the forgery case which it had instituted against Obaseki after it called a total of six witnesses and tendered 17 Exhibits.
The party’s lead counsel, Chief Akin Olujimi, SAN, announced the decision of the party to rest its case, shortly after the court discharged the sixth witness, PW-6, Dr. Mikano Asekome, who is an Associate Professor in Banking and Finance Department at Benson Idahosa University, Benin City, Edo State.
The PW-6 told the court that he was on December 23, 2020, summoned to appear as witness in the matter. The witness went ahead and tendered in evidence, the original copy of his certificate in Agricultural-Economics, which the University of Ibadan awarded to him on July 31, 1978. Under cross-examination, the witness told the court that as at 1974 when he gained admission into University of Ibadan, the Join Admission & Matriculation Board, JAMB, was not in existence.
“As at then, it was the responsibility of the University of Ibadan to set criteria for admission. However, in order to guide students, the criteria was always documented and published.
“The conditions differed from Faculty to Faculty, though the number of credits that must be passed by intending students remained basic.
“There were two modes of admission then, which was either by direct entry or through concessional entrance exam that was also called prelim or pre-degree.
“In my case, I went in through prelim. That was why I spent four years in school.
“As at then, the University of Ibadan was not offering prelim on courses in Faculty of Arts. Even in sciences, certain students entered through direct entry and they only spend three years”, the witness added.
Under further cross-examination, the witness told the court that he had never seen governor Obaseki’s original certificate. Earlier, the PW-4, Mr. Raphael Onwuzuligbo, who is a retired Assistant Superintendent of Police and a forensic document examiner, said he analysed governor Obaseki’s certificate following a request that was made by a person he identified as “Faithful Steward”.
He however admitted that what was sent to him for analysis was not the original copy of the certificate, but the Certified True Copy, CTC.
“I don’t know who certified it, but on the face of the document there is Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
“I don’t know the origin of the document”, the witness added.
The PW-5, Engineer Gabriel Iduseri, identified himself as the former South South zonal youth leader of the APC and the present caretaker zonal youth leader of the APC.
He tendered a copy of a suit marked FHC/B/CS/124/2016, which the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, previously instituted against Obaseki for allegedly forging his certificate. The witness told the court that the case was subsequently struck out after the time for its determination elapsed.
He told the court that Obaseki had in 2016, submitted an affidavit of loss of certificate to INEC, adding that the said affidavit was not part of documents he submitted alongside his nomination form (Form EC9) in the 2020 election circle.
The witness told the court that Obaseki had in the Form CF001 he submitted in 2016, claimed that he attended the University of Ibadan between 1976 to 1979. Asked if he ever visited the University of Ibadan or WAEC to confirm the authenticity of Obaseki’s credentials, the witness answered in the negative. Meantime, following APC’s decision to close its case, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, directed governor Obaseki to open his defence on Tuesday.
The APC had in the suit it jointly filed with one of its members in Edo, Mr. Williams Edobor, alleged that Obaseki forged the University of Ibadan degree certificate he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in aid of his qualification for the election.
In the suit marked FHC/B/CS/74/2020, the Plaintiffs equally alleged that there were discrepancies in the subjects that Obaseki claimed he passed in his West African Examination Council (WAEC) exam and subjects in his testimonial.
They are therefore praying the court to declare that Obaseki’s claim in his INEC form EC9 at column C, sworn to on June 29, 2020, at the Federal Capital Territory High Court Registry to the effect that he obtained from the University of Ibadan in 1979, a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Classical Studies is false and contrary to Section 31 (5) and (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010. As well as an order declaring that Obaseki lied on oath when he swore to an affidavit on June 29, 2020 that he worked in Afrinvest Limited from 1994 to 2014 when he retired.
The INEC was listed as the 3rd Defendant in the matter.
Meanwhile, in line with section 285 (10) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the 180 days stipulated for the trial court to conclude the hearing on the pre-election suit, will elapse on Sunday.
In a related development, the court dismissed a joint suit the National Rescue Mission, NRM, and one of its chieftains, Mr. Steven Ozoro, filed to challenge the eligibility of APC’s governorship candidate in Edo State, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and his Deputy, Abdulganiyu Daudu.
The court held that the suit had become academic, stressing that no legal benefit could accrue to any of the parties in the matter. Cited as Defendants in the matter were INEC, APC, Ize-Iyamu and Daudu.