A forensic expert, Raphael Onwuzuligbo, on Monday, testified at the Edo Election Petition Tribunal to the effect that Governor Godwin Obaseki presented two different University of Ibadan (UI)’s Bachelor’s Degree certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in 2016 and 2020.
Onwuzuligbo, a retired Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) testified as a subpoenaed witness in the case filed by the Action Democratic Party (ADP) and its governorship candidate, Iboi Emmanuel, who are challenging the victory of Obaseki on the claim that he was not qualified to contest the election in the first instance, on an alleged certificate forgery and perjury.
Under cross-examination by the counsel to the respondents, the retired police officer maintained that the UI’s certificate presented by Obaseki in 2016 was different from the one he presented in 2020 to INEC.
ADP and its governorship candidate, in the petition with reference number: EPT/ED/GOV/01/2020, joined INEC, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Obaseki, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, as co-respondents, in the matter, where it is praying the tribunal to disqualify Obaseki over the alleged controversial UI certificate and nullify the votes cast for him, thereby ordering INEC to conduct a fresh election involving all other qualified governorship candidates, excluding PDP and Obaseki.
The forensic document examiner was grilled during cross-examination by the lead counsel to INEC, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN; PDP, Rotimi Oguneso, SAN; Obaseki, Ken Mozia, SAN; APC, Emmanuel Usoh; and Ize-Iyamu, Austin Osarenkhoe.
Justice Yunusa Musa, leading two other judges (Justices Suleiman Yahaya Abubakar and Olufunmilayo Stanley), adjourned till Tuesday for the continuation of hearing in the ADP’s petition.
At the Monday’s sitting, hearing in the petition by the governorship candidate of New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Tracy Agol, who also prayed for an order to compel INEC to conduct fresh election involving all the qualified candidates, excluding PDP and Obaseki, did not hold.
Counsel to the first respondent (INEC) in Agol’s petition, Razak Isenalumhe, opened his defence by tendering the Certified True Copies (CTCs) of INEC’s timetable and schedule of activities for the September 19 last year’s election in Edo State, without objection from the lead counsel to PDP, Hamed Raji; Obaseki, Ken Mozia, SAN; and Agol, Stella Agoha.
In the Agol’s petition, the chairman of the tribunal adjourned till Wednesday for the defence of the second respondent, PDP.
Other petitions slated for later hearing are petitions from Action Peoples Party (APP) and Allied Peoples Movement (APM), which also sought the nullification of the September 19 re-election of Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, while calling for fresh election by INEC, but to exclude PDP, Obaseki and his running mate, in view of the call for their disqualification over alleged forgery of their certificates.
It would be recalled that the tribunal had on December 11, 2020, dismissed in a unanimous ruling, the petition by Action Alliance (AA) and its governorship candidate, Ukonga Onaivi, against Obaseki, PDP and INEC, for failing to file pre-hearing notice.
Also, a Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, had two Saturdays ago, cleared Obaseki of the allegation of certificate forgery and perjury filed against him by APC and one of its chieftains, Williams Edobor, on the ground that plaintiffs failed to prove the criminal allegations beyond reasonable doubt.
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