APC, Obaseki prepare final arguments


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The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, fixed Thursday for adoption of final addresses in the certificate forgery suit instituted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) against Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State.

The trial judge, Ahmed Mohammed, adjourned for final arguments after Mr Obaseki closed his case with his third and final witness on Wednesday.

The APC and one of its members, Williams Edobor, who jointly filed the suit against the governor, had earlier closed their case after calling six witnesses.

Mr Obaseki subsequently opened his defence with two witnesses on Tuesday and called the last one on Wednesday.

When it was the turn of the two other defendants sued along with Mr Obaseki – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) – to open their defence on Wednesday, their lawyers said they would not be calling any witnesses.

The plaintiffs had in their suit accused Mr Obaseki of forging his Bachelor of Arts in Classical Studies certificate which he submitted to INEC in support of his nomination as a candidate in the Edo State governorship election in September.

The plaintiffs prayed for the disqualification of Mr Obaseki as the PDP’s candidate in the election on the grounds of certificate forgery.

The court will at the end of Thursday’s proceedings fix a date for judgment in the case.

The judge noted on Wednesday that the 180 days lifespan of the suit would lapse on January 9.

This implies the judge must deliver judgment in the case latest by Saturday or else the case will become spent and the court will lose jurisdiction to continue taking any action about it.

Court session

Earlier on Wednesday, Mr Obaseki’s last witness, Eghosa Osaghae, a professor of Comparative Politics from the University of Ibadan, testified.

The witness was led in evidence by Mr Obaseki’s lawyer, Ken Mozia, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.

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He tendered a Certified True Copy (CTC) his Bachelor of Science degree certificate in Political Science which he said was awarded to him by the University of Ibadan on July 6, 1979, the year Mr Obaseki also graduated from the same university.

The judge admitted it in evidence as Exhibit D18.

Under cross-examinatiin by defence lawyers led by Akin Olujinmi,
the witness said he was aware that the original size of a certificate of the University of Ibadan was bigger than an A4 size paper.

He said, “I know for a fact that when A4 paper is used to photocopy a certificate, all the information on the certificate will not be captured.

“I know this because I had a personal experience trying to photocopy an original certificate with an A4 paper.”

The University of Ibadan’s Deputy Chief Registrar, Legal, Mr Abayomi Ajayi, had testified on subpoena as Mr Obaseki’s second witness on Tuesday.

He confirmed the authenticity of the copy of the first degree certificate tendered by Mr Obaseki to back his qualification for the September 2020 governorship election in Edo State.

Mr Ajayi maintained that from the university records, Mr Obaseki was admitted as a student in 1976 through direct entry.

He said the governor graduated in 1979 during the tenure of Tekena Tamuno as Vice-Chancellor and S.J Okudu as the institution’s registrar.

He explained that the absence of the university registrar’s signature and date of issue of the certificate on the copy submitted to INEC by Obaseki was because it was not properly photocopied.

He maintained that it was possible to have the signature at the bottom of the original certificate containing the registrar’s signature, date of issue and part of the Vice Chancellor’s signature cut off if a photocopy was not properly done.

Mr Obaskei’s first witness, Charity Aiguobarueghian, also on Tuesday, tendered the original copies of the governor’s academic certificates, including the one being disputed by the APC.

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