The political atmosphere in Edo State on Saturday heaved a sigh of relief as Governor Godwin Obaseki won the case of certificate forgery preferred against him before an Abuja Federal High Court by All Progressive Congress (APC).
Obaseki, who left the APC after his disqualification to contest the September 19, 2020 governorship election under the banner of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, roundly defeated Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the APC, in 14 out of the 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the state.
A Benin High Court had on Wednesday, in a pre-election matter, disqualified the APC’s deputy governorship candidate, Gani Audu and by extension, Ize-Iyamu, on the allegation that Audi presented false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, while filing his nomination form for the election.
With the Wednesday judgement, attention shifted to the Abuja Federal High Court, where the APC was challenging the eligibility of Obaseki to contest the election on the basis of certificate forgery, an allegation the governor and his PDP party vehemently denied and contested.
The parties in the Abuja matter had on Thursday adopted their written addresses and judgement was slated for Saturday, thus heightening tension in the state.
As the news filtered in that Obaseki was cleared of the allegation of certificate forgery, the governor’s camp and his party, went into a celebratory mood.
Reacting to the judgement, a former National Chairman of the APC and former governor of the state, Chief John Odigie Oyegun said that there was no need to comment and wished that the governor would be allowed to settle down to do the job for which he was elected.
Oyegun was one of the few leaders of the APC who kicked and advised against the disqualification of Obaseki by the leadership of the party led by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, whose tenure as the National Chairman of the APC was consumed by the Obaseki saga. While the electioneering campaigns lasted, Oyegun equally stayed aloof and some 72 hours to the election, he issued a statement urging Edo people to vote for their conscience and not be moved by any sentiment.
Also reacting, the former Publicity Secretary of the APC in the State, Comrade Godwin Erhahon, said that the party was dissatisfied with the judgement.
“As a law-abiding party, we have indicated our intention to appeal. However it goes and wherever it ends, we will ensure stability and peace in our state. We are not satisfied and we have indicated our appeal”, Erhahon said.
For Chief Dan Orbih, PDP National Vice Chairman, South-South and immediate State Chairman of the party in Edo State, “the verdict affirms the mandate of the Edo People in the September 19 governorship in Edo State”
Mr. Anslem Ojezua, who until a month ago was the Edo State Chairman of the APC, said that the decision of the court was not a surprise to him because he knew all along that Obaseki was qualified.
Ojezua, who like Oyegun, did not campaign for Ize-Iyamu during the electioneering campaigns, intoned “It is an embarrassment to the APC and I didn’t expect them to sanction by the leadership of the party. The judgement means that in a Democratic setting the rule of the people will always prevail”.
The former APC State Chairman urged Governor Obaseki to remain focus and deliver on his promises to the Edo people.
Edo State PDP Chairman, Tony Azegbeimi, described the victory as “sweet”, adding that the party was happy with the outcome of the case.
“The victory is sweet, we are happy and we dedicate to God almighty. We thank the judiciary for standing with the truth; they have once again proved they are the hope of the common man. I urge the APC not to appeal because the governor of Edo State has a massive plan for the state and should not be distracted. When the governor does well, everybody enjoys it, not PDP alone,” he said.
In his reaction, Governor Obaseki, who hailed the ruling, said the judgement ” is a triumph of the rule of law and a testament to the fact that truth would prevail ultimately no matter how vehemently detractors push lies in the face of incontrovertible evidence.”
According to the governor, “The verdict of the Federal High Court, delivered by Honourable Justice Ahmed Mohammed is well-received and a victory for the rule of law. It was a most needless attempt by desperate individuals trying to undo the will of the people through the backdoor but we are happy today that justice and truth have prevailed”.
He noted that the verdict confirmed once again that Edo people were well-guided in trusting him to lead them in the September 19, 2020 governorship election, promising to continue to prioritise the development of the state irrespective of the darts thrown by those who are embittered by their loss and continue their attempt to put a spanner in the works even when they had been roundly beaten on all fronts.
“My profound gratitude goes to the judiciary who have stood indefatigably for truth and justice; the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR); my party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); our party leaders and members; my teeming supporters; the good people of Edo State and all Nigerians,” Obaseki praised.
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