By Alex Enumah in Abuja
The candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the September 2018 governorship election in Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke, on Tuesday told the Court of Appeal in Abuja that he never forged the West African Examination Council (WAEC) certificate he presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to secure clearance for the gubernatorial election.
Adeleke insisted at the appellate court that the certificate attached to his nomination form CF 001 was lawfully issued to him and as confirmed by WAEC in its affidavit evidence submitted to the Federal Capital (Territory FCT) High Court.
He therefore pleaded with the court to set aside the judgment of Justice Oathman Musa of an Abuja High Court which erroneously held that his certificate was forged as alleged by two chieftains of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In the final adoption of his brief of argument by his lawyer, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), Adeleke told the three-man panel of the court presided by Justice Adamu Jauro, that what he presented to the electoral body to secure qualification for the gubernatorial election was exactly what the examination body presented before the lower court when it was ordered to do so by Justice Musa.
He insisted that the results, scores and content in both certifcates are the same, adding that the only difference was the format it was presented.
Adeleke further told the appellate court that Justice Musa erred in law when it ignored document he ordered to be presented before him in reaching his decision that Adeleke did not possess the requisite academic qualification for the office of governor, adding that there was no case of non-qualification or forgery against Adeleke before the lower court.
He consequently urged the Appeal Court to set aside the judgment of the lower court and dismiss the suit of the two APC chieftains for being incompetent and lacking in merit.
Similarly, the PDP, in its own appeal argued by Emmanuel Enoidem, urged the appellate court to dismiss the suit for being incompetent and statute barred.
The PDP legal adviser said the suit was caught by the Fourth Alteration Act to the 1999 constitution, having not been filed within the 14 days allowed by law.
According to Enoidem, the suit was filed after 44 days the cause of action arose, while judgment was delivered outside the 180 days prescribed by law for a pre-election matter.
The PDP had conducted its primary on July 21, 2018, while the plaintiffs who are respondents in the appeal had filed their case on September 4, 2018 and judgment delivered on April 2, 2019.
The PDP in further urging the court to allow its appeal and set aside the judgment of the lower court, submitted that the trial court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain the suit because the cause of action arose in Osun State.
In their own argument, the two respondents through their counsel, Joel Akomolafe, however urged the court to uphold the judgment of the lower court, adding that the appellants did not appeal the issue of jurisdiction at the lower court.
He said that the holding of the trial court remains valid inasmuch as it was not appealled against by the appellants.
He informed the court that the trial court had dismissed Adeleke and PDP’s motion challenging jurisdiction on the grounds that it was canvassed balatedly. But Ogunwumiju, replying on point of law, said that their appeal covers both the ruling and judgment of the lower court.
The three-man panel after taking arguments from the counsel subsequently reserved judgment to a date to be communicated to parties in the matter.
Two chieftains of the APC, Wahab Raheem and Adam Habeeb, had dragged Adeleke before the governorship election petition tribunal in Osun State, accusing him of not possessing the requisite educational qualification (secondary school certificate) to contest for the office of governor.
They prayed the court for an order to disqualify Adeleke from participating in the September 22, 2018 governorship election in the state on the grounds that he does not possess the requisite educational qualification.