From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki will on Tuesday, January 5, open his defence before an Abuja federal court in a suit the alleging forgery of his University of Ibadan degree certificate.
The suit was filed by his former party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), and one of its chieftains, Mr Williams Edobor.
The plaintiffs alleged that the governor forged the university certificate he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as part of his educational qualification.
Other defendants listed in the suit are the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the INEC.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed on Monday adjourned hearing in the suit to Tuesday for Obaseki, who is one of the defendants to open his defence, shortly after the APC closed its case after calling six witnesses amongst whom are two Associate Professors who graduated from the University of Ibadan in 1978 and 1979.
The court had at its last sitting on Thursday, December 31, 2020, adjourned to Monday for the cross-examination of the fourth plaintiffs’ witness, one Raphael Onwuzuligbo, a retired police officer and a forensic document examiner.
At Monday’s hearing, Onwuzuligbo told the court how he was engaged by one Faithful Steward to examine documents relating to the certificate of Governor Obaseki being contested.
During cross-examination, he 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 showed that there is a difference in the certificate of one of the witnesses, Dr Emmanuel Balogun, and that of Obaseki.
He, however, said he did not know if the INEC issues certificates belonging to the University of Ibadan.
The fifth and sixth witnesses, Mr Gabriel Iduseri and Maikano Asekomhe, in their testimonies, also claimed that Governor Obaseki forged his University of Ibadan (UI) certificate, going by alleged discrepancies in the CTC documents they said they obtained from the INEC.
Iduseri, who claimed to be the current Caretaker Zonal Youth leader of the APC, however, admitted that he has never seen the governor’s original UI certificate.
He also stated that his allegations were based on photocopies from the INEC.
Similarly, Asekomhe, who claimed to be an Associate Professor of Banking and Finance at the Benson Idahosa University, Benin, Edo State, while admitting he never saw Obaseki’s original, said based on that fact he cannot comment on Obaseki’s certificate.
He, however, tendered his original Bachelor’s Degree in Agricultural Economics he obtained from UI in 1978 to support his forgery allegations against the governor.
At the end of cross-examination of the 6th witness, lead counsel to the plaintiffs Chief Akin Olujimi, SAN, informed the court that his clients are through with their case and will want to close it.
The judge accordingly ordered the closure of the plaintiff’s case and ordered the first defendant to open his case and adjourned the matter to Tuesday, January 5.
Meanwhile, Justice Mohammed, in a judgment delivered Monday evening, struck the case of the National Rescue Movement against the nomination of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu and AbdulGaniyu Daudu as Governor and Deputy Governor candidates, respectively, of the APC in the September 19, 2020, governorship election in Edo State.
The court held that the case has become an academic exercise as the election has been conducted, winners emerged and Ize-Iyamu and Daudu are not challenging the outcome of the poll at the ongoing election petition tribunal in Edo State.