From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The All Progressives Congress (APC), yesterday, opened its case on certificate forgery against Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, by calling a professor of law, Omoregie Edobo, as its first witness.
In his evidence in chief, Edobo of the University of Benin tendered various documents to prove that the Bachelor of Arts in Classical Studies presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by Obaseki was forged.
The party in the suit filed in July 2020 is claiming that Obaseki forged his degree certificate, which he presented to the INEC to secure his candidacy in the September governorship election.
In the pre-election suit filed through a chieftain of the party, Mr. Williams Edobor, it is specifically seeking the disqualification of Obaseki who became governor in 2016 under its platform.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Abuja division of the Federal High Court had in September said rulings in all applications as well as objections would be delivered alongside judgment ordered the APC to call its witnesses to prove allegations made against Obaseki.
When the trial commenced yesterday, the plaintiffs through their lead counsel, Chief Akin Olujimi, called their first witness, Edobo, and presented various documents to prove the case of the plaintiff.
Although, the defendants had used the same documents to cross examine the witness, the documents were however not admitted following defendants claim that Edobo was not the maker and as such cannot tender them.
But the position of the plaintiffs is that the said documents sought to be tendered were same documents of Obaseki in his defense.
However, during cross examination by Obaseki’s lawyer, Mr Ken Mozia, the witness who identified the University of Ibadan Bachelor of Arts in Classical Studies certificate issued on July 6, 1979 to Godwin Obaseki, observed that while the signature of the vice chancellor was clear that of the registrar was “not legible.”
On qualification for direct entry into the university, the witness told the court that candidates with Advanced Level or Higher School Certificate (HSC) were admitted for a three years degree programme and went ahead to confirm Obaseki’s HSC certificate issued to him by West African School Certificate (WASC) in June 1976.
However, when asked by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP’s) lawyer, Rasaq Isilalomhe, if he had ever cited the original copy of the UI certificate issued to Obaseki, the witness said: “I am not aware that an original copy of the degree certificate was issued to the 1st defendant by UI.”
Edobo also told the court that he has never seen the original of the HSC certificate WASC issued to Obaseki in 1976.
He also told the court that his allegation of forgery against Obaseki was based on photocopies of certificates Obaseki presented to INEC. He explained that there are two BA degrees Obaseki presented to INEC, adding that in the one of 2020 the signature of the Registrar was not legible.