By Kunle Olasanmi |
The Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday dismissed the alleged certificate forgery case filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and one of its chieftains, Mr Williams Edobor, against Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State.
Delivering judgment in the suit, Justice Ahmed Mohammed held that the plaintiffs failed to discharge the burden of proof placed on them, having failed to provide credible evidence to prove their case.
Justice Mohammed said there was no evidence before the court to prove that Obaseki forged his ordinary level certificate or the degree certificate awarded to him by the University of Ibadan in 1979.
The judge maintained that the allegation of forgery the APC levelled against Obaseki bordered on crime and such an allegation was required to be proved beyond reasonable doubt.
“None of the witnesses called by the plaintiffs was able to prove that the certificate was forged. In fact, the witnesses admitted that none of them visited the University of Ibadan to confirm the authenticity of the certificate.
“The plaintiffs only relied on photocopies that were attached to the Form EC9 Obaseki submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC),” he said.
The judge further said the discrepancies alleged by the APC on the degree certificate in question were adequately explained by the defendants, that it happened because the size of the paper of the certificate was bigger than the A4 paper used for the photocopy.
The judge also noted that Obaseki called as one of his witnesses, a deputy registrar, legal department of the University of Ibadan who identified the original certificate issued to Obaseki in 1979 as authentic.
He said the witness also tendered the original certificates obtained by the governor from primary school through secondary school to HSC level. He said in law, such documents were referred to as direct evidence showing that Obaseki did not forge any certificate.
According to the judge, this case is like that of a stranger claiming that the child has no father whereas the father is saying this is my child.
In the suit filed on July 14, 2019, the plaintiffs asked the court to disqualify Obaseki and his party from the poll in the event that Obaseki was found to have forged his certificate.
Sued alongside Obaseki and the PDP was the electoral umpire, INEC. In adopting his written address, Obaseki’s lawyer, Mr Ken Mozia, (SAN) urged the court to dismiss the case of on the grounds that they “woefully failed to prove the allegations made against the governor.
Similarly, PDP’s lawyer, Mr Razaq Isenalumhe, prayed the court to dismiss APC’s suit for being incompetent and unmeritorious.
INEC’s lawyer, Mr Mohammed Bawa, informed the court that his client did not file any process because of its neutrality in the suit.
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