The Federal High Court in Abuja has fixed Saturday for judgment in a certificate forgery suit filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) against Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State.
Ahmed Mohammed, the judge presiding over the case, fixed the judgment date after parties to the suit adopted their final arguments on Thursday.
The judge fixed Saturday for the judgment to beat the expiry date of the suit which has 180 days lifespan from the time it was filed in July 2020.
The APC and one of its members, Williams Edobor, who jointly filed the suit, urged the court to disqualify Mr Obaseki as the governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the September 2020 poll.
Their prayer is anchored on the grounds that Mr Obaseki allegedly forged his Bachelor of Arts in Classical Studies certificate which he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in support of his nomination as a candidate in the Edo State governorship election.
Shoud the court disqualifying Mr Obaseki as a candidate in the election which he won to clinch the second term in office, he would be sacked and the party that came second in the election will produce the next governor and deputy governor.
Mr Obaseki, his party, PDP, and INEC, were sued as co-defendants in the suit.
While adopting his client’s final address on Thursday, the governor’s lawyer, Ken Mozia, urged the court to dismiss the suit.
The plaintiffs “woefully” failed to prove the allegation they made against the governor, Mr Mozia, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said.
The PDP’s lawyer, Rasaq Isenalumhe, similarly urged the court the court to dismiss APC’s suit for being incompetent and unmeritorious.
But INEC’s lawyer, Mr Mohammed Bawa, said the commission opted to take a neutral stand in the suit.
The plaintiffs through their lawyer, Akin Olujimi, urged the court to grant their prayers on the grounds that strong evidence was adduced to establish their case against Mr Obaseki.
The plaintiffs had called six witnesses including two associate professors, who tendered their individual certificates obtained from the University of Ibadan in 1978 and 1979 respectively, in their bid to discredit Mr Obaseki’s certificate obtained from the same institution.
Mr Obaseki had called three witnesses in his defence.
One of the defence witnesses subpoenaed to testify was the Deputy Registrar, Legal, University of Ibadan, Abayomi Ajayi, who said there was no basis to adjudge Mr Obaseki’s certificate, the copy of which was submitted to INEC, as forged.
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 Mr Obaseki was “because it was not properly photocopied”.
He said 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”.
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