Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Proceedings in the certificate forgery case against the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, has been shifted to Wednesday, November 18, by the Abuja division of the Federal High Court.
The adjournment which was at the instance of Governor Obaseki is to allow the court to resolve all pending motions relating to the suit.
The action was filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Edobor Williams had dragged Obaseki, People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) court over alleged perjury.
In the suit marked FHC/B/CS/74/2020, the plaintiffs specifically prayed the court for an order disqualifying Obaseki from contesting the September 19 governorship election in Edo State on the grounds that he supplied false information on oath to INEC, an act said to be contrary to Section 31(5) and (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010.
The suit which was filed on July 14 at the Benin Division of the Federal High Court, suffered some set back before it was set down for hearing Wednesday by Justice Mohammed of the Abuja division of the Court.
When the case came up on Monday, counsel to Obaseki, Mr Ken Mozia (SAN), prayed the court to hear and resolve all pending motions relating to pleadings before going into the substantive matter
Mozia specifically asked the court to allow him to move his motion challenging the competence of the reply filed by the APC to the defence of governor Obaseki in the matter
APC counsel Chief Akin Olujimi, SAN, objected to the position of Obaseki on the pending motions and prayed the court to defer all the pending applications and allow him to go straight into the substantive matter by calling his witnesses who were in court
But counsel to the PDP Razak Isenalumhe aligned himself with Obaseki’s position that all pending motions be resolved first before delving into the main matter
In a short ruling Justice Mohammed held that the motion of Obaseki challenging the competence of APC’s reply to his defence is fundamental because it related to the pleadings and has to be resolved first
The judge said that filing of pleadings can not be said to have been completed when motion challenging the competence of a reply to defence has not been resolved
Justice Mohammed subsequently fixed November 18 for hearing of Obaseki’s motion.
The plaintiffs in the writ of summons specifically accused the governor of forging his university certificate presented to INEC in aid of his qualification for the governorship election in Edo State.
They also claimed that there are discrepancies in the subject Obaseki claimed he passed in his West African Examination Council (WAEC) exam and that in his testimonial.
Consequently, they want the court to declare that Obaseki’s claim in his INEC form EC9 at column C, sworn to on June 29 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 that he worked in Afrinvest Limited from 1994 to 2014 when he retired.
‘A declaration that the 1st defendant is disqualified from contesting election to the office of Governor of Edo State for non-fulfilment 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.’
Plaintiffs also urged the court to declare that the 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.’
They, therefore, prayed 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.