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Alleged Certificate Forgery: Court To Decide Obaseki, APC’s Fate Saturday

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Gov. Godwin Obaseki

Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Thursday, slated Saturday, January 9, 2021, to deliver judgment in the alleged certificate forgery suit brought against Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State.

Nigerian Tribune reports that the All Progressives Congress (APC) and one of its chieftains, Mr Williams Edobor, had dragged Obaseki to court for allegedly forging his University of Ibadan (UI) certificate he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in aid of his qualification for the September 19, 2020 governorship election in Edo State.

Sued alongside Obaseki are the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and INEC.

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The trial judge fixed the date to deliver judgement in the matter after all the parties adopted their final written addresses.

While adopting his final written address, Obaseki, through his lead counsel, Ken Mozia (SAN), urged the court to dismiss the suit, on the ground that the plaintiffs, failed to prove their allegation that he submitted a forged UI degree certificate to INEC in his form EC9.

The PDP, through its counsel, Razaq Isenalohme, asked the court to not only dismiss the suit but to do so with substantial cost, while INEC, through its lawyer, M. N. Bawa, said that it did not file any process in the matter, adding that the electoral umpire is neutral.

Counsel to the Plaintiffs, Chief Akin Olujimi (SAN), while adopting his final brief of argument, urged the court to grant all the claims his clients are seeking in the matter.

After listening to submissions of all the parties, Justice Mohammed reserved judgement in the matter till 12noon on Saturday.

The plaintiffs in the suit filed on July 14, 2019, want the court to disqualify Obaseki and his party, the PDP, from the poll, in the event that Obaseki was found to have forged his university certificate obtained from UI in 1979.

Obaseki had won the election under the platform of the PDP, while the APC with its governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, came second.

In proving their allegations the plaintiffs called in a total of six witnesses including two Associate Professors, who tendered their individual certificates obtained from the University of Ibadan in 1978 and 1979 respectively.

In his defence, on Tuesday, Obaseki called three witnesses among whom is the Deputy Registrar, Legal, University of Ibadan, Mr Abayomi Ajayi, who told the court that the mere fact that some parts of the photocopy of the original of Obaseki’s degree certificate from the UI he attached to his form EC9 to NEC are missing, did not amount to forgery.

His first witness one Charity Aguobawekhina, who claimed to have made the photocopy for Obaseki also explained that the absence of the name of the Registrar and date of issue in the photocopy was as a result of improper photocopying process.

At Wednesday’s proceedings, the first defendant also called another witness from UI, Prof Eghosa Osaghae, a Professor of Comparative Politics.

The Professor who was appearing in the matter as a subpoenaed witness tendered a Certified True Copy (CTC) of a Bachelor of Science degree certificate in Political Science that was awarded to him by the University of Ibadan on July 6, 1979.

Under cross-examination, the witness told the court that he is aware that the original size of the certificate of the University of Ibadan is bigger than an A4 paper size, which the photocopy was made on.

He said: “I know for a fact that when A4 paper is used to photocopy a certificate, all the information on the certificate will not be captured.

“I know this because I had a personal experience trying to photocopy an original certificate with an A4 paper,” he added.

He told the court that the copy of his own certificate that was tendered in evidence was photocopied with a paper that was bigger than A4 paper, adding that it was the reason why all the information was captured.

According to the trial judge, Justice Ahmed Mohammed, going by the law, the 180 days for the hearing and determination of the suit ends on Saturday, January 9.

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