By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, on Wednesday, slated November 16, to hear a perjury suit the All Progressives Congress, APC, instituted against Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State.
The suit marked FHC/B/CS/74/2020, which also has a member of the APC in the state, Edobor Williams, as co-Plaintiff, is alleging that Obaseki lied about his academic qualifications.
The Plaintiffs accused the governor of forging the university certificate he presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in aid of his qualification for the governorship election that held in Edo State on September 19.
They equally told the court 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.
Consequently, APC and Williams are 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.
They also want the court to declare 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.
Specifically, the Plaintiffs are seeking among other things, “A declaration that the 1st defendant is disqualified from contesting election to the office of Governor of Edo State for non-fulfillment of the constitutional requirement in section 182(1)(j) of the Constitution of Nigeria and upon presenting false/forged certificate to INEC contrary to Section 31 (5) and (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010”.
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They want the court to declare that the the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, “having sponsored a candidate who supplied false information on oath and presented false/forged certificates to INEC is not entitled to participate in the election scheduled for September 19 or on any other date that may be appointed for the purpose”.
More so, the Plaintiffs are praying the court for an order disqualifying Obaseki and the PDP from the September 19 governorship election, as well as, an order directing INEC to remove the name of the PDP and its candidate from the ballot paper or election records or materials.
Aside governor Obaseki, other Defendants in the matter are the PDP and INEC.
Meanwhile, though the suit was initially filed before the Benin Division of the Federal High Court, it was subsequently transfered to Abuja.
When the matter came up on Wednesday, Justice Ahmed Mohammed adjourned it at the behest of counsel to the Plaintiffs, Chief Akin Olujimi, SAN, who noted that the case was listed for mention.
On his part, counsel to governor Obaseki, Chief Ken Mozia, SAN, who did not oppose the request for adjournment, told the court that he had filed a motion to challenge the competence of some of the processes that were filed by the Plaintiffs.
Before he adjourned the matter till November 16, Justice Mohammed drew attention of all the parties to the fact that the suit was lodged since July 14.
Justice Mohammed stressed that the suit, being a pre-election matter, has a life span of 180 days that will expire by January next year.
He therefore urged the lawyers to cooperate with the court to ensure speedy determination of the matter.
According to the judge, since both parties would have to call witnesses to give evidence with regards to the disputed issues, they must be mindful of the life span of the matter.
The court directed the Plaintiffs to open their case on the next adjourned date.
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