….as court adjourns for judgement
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Thursday, fixed Saturday to deliver judgement on the certificate forgery case the All Progressives Congress, APC, and one its members, Mr. Williams Edobor, instituted against Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed okayed the matter for judgement after all the parties adopted their final briefs of argument.
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While adopting his final written address, Obaseki, through his team of lawyers led by Chief Ken Mozia, SAN, urged the court to dismiss the suit, insisting that the Plaintiffs, failed to prove their allegation that he submitted forged credentials to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
Likewise, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, through its lawyer, Mr. Razaq Isenalohme, asked the court to not only dismiss the suit, but to do so with substantial cost.
On its part, the INEC, through its lawyer, Mr. M. N. Bawa, stressed that it did not file any process in the matter.
“My lord we did not file any process throughout the proceedings, we consistently remained neutral. In the circumstance, we will be urging the court that decide the matter one way or the other, based on processes before this court”, INEC’s lawyer added.
However, 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 he had listened to all the parties, Justice Mohammed reserved his judgement till 12noon on Saturday.
The APC had in the suit it jointly filed with one of its members in Edo, Mr. Edobor, alleged that Obaseki forged the University of Ibadan degree certificate he submitted to INEC in aid of his qualification for the governoship election that held in Edo state on September 19, 2020.
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.
The Plaintiffs closed their case last Monday after they called a total of six witnesses and tendered 17 exhibits before the court.
Similarly, Obaseki who is the 1st Defendant in the matter, rested his case after he produced three witnesses that testified on his behalf, and also tendered a total of 18 exhibits.
Among exhibits he tendered before the court included the original copy of the Bachelor of Arts degree certificate that was awarded to him by the University of Ibadan in 1979, which the APC insisted was forged.
Other exhibits the embattled governor adduced before the court to prove his qualification, were the School Certificate the West African Examination Council, WAEC issued to him in June 1973, a Higher School Certificate which WAEC also issued to him in 1976, as well as the original copy of his Primary School Certificate issued in July 1971.
While PDP told the court that it would rely on Obaseki’s defence, INEC said it had no witness to call in the matter.
In line with section 285 (10) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the 180 days stipulated for the trial court to determine the pre-election suit, will elapse by midnight on Saturday.
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