Foremost lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chief Wole Olanipekun, is leading four other SANs in cases of certificate forgery and perjury instituted against Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, at a Federal High Court in Benin City. The All Progressives Congress (APC) and a member of the party, Mr. Edobor Williams, instituted the cases.
The plaintiffs are asking the court to disqualify the governor and his deputy from participating in the September 19 governorship election in the state as well as prevent their party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), from fielding any candidates in the election.
In a related development, the APC National Campaign Council for the September 19 governorship election in the state, Saturday, raised the alarm over the destruction and removal of the outdoor billboards and campaign posters of its candidate, Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, and his running mate, Mallam Gani Audu, by alleged agents of the state government.
But Special Adviser to Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, dismissed the allegation, calling it belated antics of a routinely recycled politician.
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has released a final list of eligible candidates for the September 19 election across the different political parties.
Obaseki and Shaibu, who are contesting the election on the platform of PDP, had contested and won the governorship election in 2016 under APC. In two separate suits filed against them by the APC and Williams, the plaintiffs want the court to stop Obaseki and Shaibu from participating in the September 19 governorship election in Edo State for allegedly lying on oath and submitting false documents to INEC to aid their qualifications in the forthcoming election. According to them, the alleged offences of the defendants run contrary to the provisions of the Electoral Act 2010, as amended, and the punishment is automatic disqualification.
The plaintiffs are also asking the court to bar the PDP from participating or representing itself in the September 19 governorship election for sponsoring ineligible candidates.
In the first suit marked FHC/B/CS/74/2020, which has Obaseki, PDP and INEC as first, second and third respondents, respectively, the plaintiffs want the court to hold that Obaseki lied on oath in his INEC Form CF 001 submitted in aid of his qualification.
The plaintiffs further accused the first defendant of forging his West African Examinations Council (WAEC) result in aid of his admission for a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Ibadan. In a statement of claim in support of the suit by Dr. Ehiogie West-Idahosa, the plaintiffs further claimed that Obaseki did not meet the minimum requirements to gain admission into the university, as he had just three credits and two passes in his school certificate results purportedly issued by WAEC.
Obaseki was also accused of perjury for claiming to have graduated from the University of Ibadan in 1976 in his form CF 001 completed in July 2016, while in his form CF 001 completed on June 29, 2020 he claimed to have graduated in 1979.
The plaintiffs in the suit added that Obaseki had also been disqualified from participating in the election by the APC screening committee, which discovered huge discrepancies in documents presented in support of his academic qualifications.
The plaintiffs, in accusing Obaseki of forgery, pointed out that his degree certificate, whose photocopy was presented to INEC, revealed that only the Vice Chancellor of the university signed the certificate and without effective date of award, as against the standard operating procedure of the Examination, Records and Administrative Data Processing Division.
The plaintiffs also want the court to declare that Obaseki’s claim that he worked with Afrinvest Limited from 1994 to 2014, when he retired, was false.
Aside the alleged falsification of documents and lying on oath, the plaintiffs want the PDP standard bearers disqualified on the grounds that the waiver granted them by the PDP last month contravened section 177 of the 1999 Constitution.
In the other suit marked FHC/B/CS/75/2020, which has Shaibu, PDP and INEC as first, second and third respondents, respectively, the plaintiffs, apart from accusing Shaibu of also parading false academic documents, want him disqualified for presenting forged tax clearance certificate to INEC in 2006 in aid of his qualification for the 2007 House of Assembly election in Edo State in 2007.
On Shaibu’s academic record, the plaintiffs claimed discrepancies and alleged forgery in his WAEC result, adding that Shaibu’s claim that he obtained a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Benin in 2012 was false.