By Andrew Orolua
Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court Abuja on Thursday reserved judgment till Saturday on the alleged pre-election certificate forgery suit filed by All progressives Congress (APC) and a party chieftain, Edobor Williams against the Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki and two others.
The judge reserved judgment in the suit after lawyers to the parties adopted their written addresses on the pre-election suit that would elapse on Saturday midnight.
APC had in the writ of summons it filed in April 2020 at the court during the heat of the primary election campaigns alleged that Obaseki submitted a forged degree certificate attached to his INEC form EC9 in aid of his candidature.
Before it went to Court, APC’s governorship screening committee had disqualified Obaseki from the governorship contest based on its finding and a disagreement between Obaseki and the then national Chairman of the party Adams Oshiomhole.
At a brief court session on Thursday, Obaseki lawyer Mr. Ken Mozia (SAN) while adopting his final written address urged the Court to dismiss the suit on the ground that the plaintiff “woefully failed to prove the case of forgery and perjury” against his client Obaseki.
On their part, Plaintiffs lawyer, Chief Akin Olujimi (SAN) urged the Court to grant the reliefs of the plaintiffs having been proved beyond reasonable doubt.
Razak Isenalumhe the counsel representing PDP also adopted his written address and urged the Court to dismiss the suit on same ground that the plaintiff woefully failed to prove case of forgery.
Independent National Electoral Commission the 3rd defendant to the suit who was represented by Mukhtar Bawa, did not file any process. He said the electoral body will remain neutral.
Obaseki on Wednesday closed his defense after calling three witnesses. Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that sponsored Obaseki in the September 19 ,2020 Edo State Governorship election and the electoral body the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had also closed their defense same day.
A defence witness Professor Eghosa Osaghe of the Department of Comparative Politics, University of Ibadan and three other previous witnesses who attended same University of Ibadan and graduated in 1979 tendered the certified true copy of their certificates.
Professor Osaghe narrated his experience while trying to make a duplicate copy of his certificate on an A4 paper, and said that the portion of the document that had the date and registrar’s signature was cut off in the process of photocopying.
During cross examination of the witness by the plaintiff lawyer Chief Akin Olujimi (SAN), the witness said that with the constraints in photocopying, he would have took the risk and tendered an incomplete copy of his certificate than presenting nothing at all, bearing in mind that it is subject to verification.
PDP and INEC did not call any witness. While PDP relied on the testimonies of Obaseki witnesses, INEC Lawyer S. M. Danbaba leaves the matter at the discretion of the Court.
With the closures of their defense, Justice Ahmed Mohammed prevailed on the lawyers to parties in the suit to present their final written addresses through virtual Channel means communication to enable the court meet the time constraints as the suit will elapse on Sunday 10th of January.
After about an hour stand down by the court, all parties in the suit agreed to file and exchange final written addresses in electronic copies . The APC had presented six witnesses during hearing of the suit.