Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki will commence his defence today before a Federal High Court in Abuja in the alleged certificate forgery case brought against him by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a member of the party, Edobor Williams.
It is the plaintiffs’ claim, Obaseki allegedly forged his first degree certificate he claimed to have obtained from the University of Ibadan, which he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as part of his educational qualification.
Other defendants in the suit are the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and INEC.
Plaintiffs’ lead lawyer Akin Olujinmi (SAN) announced the closure of his clients’ case at around 6 pm yesterday after calling six witnesses, following which Justice Ahmed Mohammed adjourned till 10 am on Tuesday for Obaseki to open his defence.
Among the witnesses called by the plaintiffs were two associate professors, who said they graduated from the University of Ibadan in 1978 and 1979.
At the commencement of proceedings, the defendants continued their cross-examination of the fourth plaintiffs’ witness, Raphael Onwuzuligbo, a retired police officer and a forensic document examiner.
Lawyers to Obaseki and the PDP, Ken Mozia (SAN) and Razak Isenalumhe, to cross-examined Onwuzuligbo during which the witness told the court how he was engaged by an individual he chose to describe as a faithful steward to examine some documents relating to Obaseki’s certificate.
The witness admitted not knowing the origin of the documents sent to him for examination, but stated that the documents are certified true copy (CTC) of Obaseki’s certificates.
He said his findings revealed that there is a difference in the certificate of one of the witnesses, Dr Emmanuel Balogun, and that of Obaseki.
Onwuzuligbo said he did not know if INEC issued the certificate belonging to the University of Ibadan.
The fifth and sixth plaintiffs’ witnesses, Gabriel Iduseri and Maikano Asekomhe, claimed that Obaseki forged his University of Ibadan certificate going by alleged discrepancies in the CTC documents they said they obtained from INEC.
Iduseri, who described himself as the current Caretaker Zonal Youth leader of the APC, admitted, under cross-examination, that he has never seen Obaseki’s original UI certificate.
He also stated that his allegations were based on photocopies from INEC.
Asekomhe, who said he is an Associate Professor of Banking and Finance at the Benson Idahosa University, Benin, Edo State, said he never saw Obaseki’s original certificate and, as such cannot comment on the certificate.
He then tendered his original Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Economics, which he claimed to have obtained from UI in 1978 to support his forgery allegations against the governor.
Also yesterday, Justice Mohammed delivered judgment in the suit by the National Rescue Movement (NRM) against the nomination of Osagie Ize-Iyamu and AbdulGaniyu Daudu as governorship and deputy governorship candidates of the APC in the September 19, 2020 governorship election in Edo State.
The judge struck out the case and held that the case has become an academic exercise as election had been conducted and winners emerged.
He noted that Ize-Iyamu and Daudu, whose candidacy was being challenged in the suit, are not challenging the outcome of the election at the election petition tribunal as candidates in the election.
The judge, in holding that the case was no longer of any value, noted that even if the court proceeded to decide the case, its outcome would not confer any benefit on any of the parties.
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