The Federal High Court Sitting in Abuja on Saturday ruled that the Edo state governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki is duly qualified to contest the September 19, 2020 governorship election in Edo state.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed delivered the judgment on Saturday in a suit filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a chieftain of the party, Williams Edobor, against the governor.
The APC and Edobor had filed the suit alleging that Governor Obaseki presented a forged certificate to seek re-election in the Edo State governorship election held on September 19, 2020.
According to the plaintiffs, the said document was purportedly issued by the University of Ibadan, while the governor presented same to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which conducted the poll.
However, Justice Ahmed Mohammed held that the Plaintiffs, failed to by way of credible evidence, discharge the burden of proof placed on them by the law.
He said there was no iota of evidence before the court to establish that Obaseki forged either his O’level certificate or the degree certificate that was awarded to him in 1979 by the University of Ibadan.
He held that allegation of forgery the Plaintiffs levelled against Obaseki bordered on crime and therefore required to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.
“None of the witnesses called by the Plaintiffs was able to prove that the certificate was forged.
“In fact, the witnesses admitted that none of them visited the University of Ibadan to confirm the authenticity of the certificate.
“The Plaintiffs only relied on photocopies that were attached to the Form EC9 the 1st Defendant submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission”, the court noted.
“The evidence of the plaintiffs is at variance with their allegations,” the judge said.
He said contrary to the plaintiffs’ claim, the representative of University of Ibadan confirmed Mr Obaseki was duly admitted to UI and that the copy of the certificate he presented was genuine.
He said the concession of the plaintiffs’ witnesses that they did not bother to go to the University of Ibadan or any of the institution that they claimed Mr Obaseki forged their certificates, was enough to let the case to rest.
He ruled, “Having thoroughly analysed the evidence of this case, it is the conclusion of this court that plaintiff did not forge his O’Level Certificate, his HSC certificate, and particularly his University of Ibadan degree certificate.
It held that apparent discrepancies in the documents Obaseki submitted to INEC, “were satisfactorily explained”.
Before Justice Mohammed delivered the judgement in the suit, counsels to both parties in the matter had closed their cases after they presented witnesses and evidence to the court.
During proceedings on Thursday, lawyer to the Plaintiffs, Akin Olujimi, adopted his final written address.
He urged the court to affirm their position that the governor presented a forged certificate to the electoral umpire and was unfit to occupy the office.
This was, however, rejected by Governor Obaseki’s counsel, Ken Mozia, who asked the court to dismiss the suit over what he described as the plaintiff’s failure to prove their case.
A Dramatic Switch, Yet Same Result
Governor Obaseki contested and won the governorship election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in a bid to extend his stay in office by another four years.
Although he was elected into office for the first term on the APC platform, the governor later defected from the party after he was screened out from the party’s primary which saw Mr Osagie Ize-Iyamu emerging as the APC flagbearer for the election.
This came in the middle of a lingered dispute between the governor and his predecessor and immediate past APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
After defecting from the APC, he got the PDP’s ticket and went ahead to defeat Ize-Iyamu for the second time to claim the governorship seat in what can be described as a dramatic switch of political parties.
Governor Obaseki had defeated Ize-Iyamu as the APC candidate in the 2016 governorship election while the latter was the PDP candidate.
Four years later, he secured 307,955 of the total votes, 84,336 more votes than Ize-Iyamu who got 223, 619 votes.