- APC insists gov’s sworn affidavit that claimed he graduated in 1976 still an issue
- Burden of proof could favour governor, say analysts
- Party screens Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu, Ogiemwonyi, Obazee, Odubu
Chuks Okocha, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja, Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City and Kemi Olaitan in Ibadan
The University of Ibadan (UI), the alma mater of Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin
Nogheghase Obaseki, wednesday laid to rest the controversy over the governor’s certificate with a declaration that he attended the nation’s premier university and graduated in 1979.
UI, in a statement by its Registrar, Mrs Olubunmi O Faluyi, said Obaseki gained admission into the university in 1976 to study Classics and graduated in 1979 with a Second Class Honours, Lower Division.
In his reaction to the authentication of his certificate, Obaseki said posterity would always vindicate the just.
The governor, who is seeking a second term on APC platform, has been severally accused of possessing dodgy credentials.
Party chieftains and others have been raising queries over his credentials.
Among the inconsistencies cited in Obaseki’s certificates are that his O/Level results showed that he has three credits but despite that he spent only three years to allegedly bagged a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classics from the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, in 1976, without an A/Level result.
A/Levels are required for a three-year direct entry course in Nigerian universities.
The queries over Obaseki’s credentials is fallout of the crisis in the state chapter of the party that has pitted the governor against the APC National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole.
The party yesterday screened Obaseki and four others ahead of the primary slated for June 22.
The UI, in the statement, said the governor’s records of his admission and graduation were intact in its archives of the university.
However, notwithstanding the university’s clarification, trouble seems not yet over for the governor as some party chiefs said he still had query to answer on the sworn affidavit he submitted to INEC through the party, claiming he graduated from UI in 1976 as against 1979 which UI confirmed yesterday was his year of graduation.
In the affidavit, Obaseki had allegedly claimed he entered UI in 1973 and graduated in 1976.
Party sources told THISDAY that the sworn affidavit was still an issue that only the governor can address as it borders on perjury.
In a petition to the Chairman of the Screening Committee for Edo State Gubernatorial Election, some concerned members of APC in the state, Mr. Edobor Williams, Ugbesia Godwin and Amedu Anakhu, had said the Abuja High Court, in a response to a request by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which had suspected foul play over the documents submitted to INEC in 2016, had in a letter to PDP, dated September 28, 2016, “clearly established the element of false affidavit on the part of Godwin Obaseki, which makes him disqualified.”
But some legal analysts have said until the claim of perjury is properly established against the governor, and to the satisfaction of the court, it would not stop his second term bid.
They added that the onus is on the accusers to prove the alleged inconsistencies in Obaseki’s credentials.
APC Screens Obaseki, Ize-Iyamu, Three Others
The APC yesterday commenced the screening of Edo State governorship aspirants ahead of thevJune 22 primary.
Apart from Obaseki, others screened at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja were Mr. Chris Ogiemwonyi, Hon. Osaro Obazee, Mr. Osagie Ize-Iyamu and Dr. Pius Odubu.
The seven-man screening committee commenced work at about 1 p.m.
Obaseki had earlier arrived at the party national secretariat at about 1:10 p.m, but left about five minutes later, after making an appearance at the conference room, venue of the screening.
He returned at about 8pm and was grilled for over two hours.
I’m Not Expecting to Get Justice, Says Obaseki
The governor, after the screening, expressed doubt if he would get justice from the committee because Oshiomhole is an interested party in the Edo primary.
He stated: “The last time I came here, I asked that Oshiomhole recuse himself from the process in the interest of peace and justice. But as a party man, I have had to go through the screening like everybody else. “Since he is the judge and the jury in this matter, I will just wait for the outcome of the screening. I have given them all the information they need; the controversial certificate from the University of Ibadan has been tendered.
“Like I said, as a party man, I have gone through the screening process but I do not believe that I will get justice because Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is an interested party in the Edo process.
“One of the questions that I was asked was that why did I issue a gazette that will prevent the party from performing direct elections in Edo State – that did I not see it as an anti-party activity? I just felt that if we put politics above the lives of the people of Edo State, we may be missing the point.”
The two-day screening will continue today with the sixth aspirant, Hon. Matthew Iduoriyekemwen, expected to appear before the committee.
Speaking during the screening of the aspirants, the Chairman of the committee, Prof. Jonathan Ayuba, said that the committee took the challenge not because it was complex, adding that the integrity of the committee members are at stake.
He noted that the committee is not a judicial committee, neither is it investigating the aspirants.
He added that the job of the committee is to verify information about the six aspirants based on evidence and facts.
Obaseki Faction Writes INEC, Challenges Oshiomhole over Secretariat
A faction of the party loyal to Obaseki has petitioned the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), saying that Oshiomhole lacks the power to change the address of the party in the state ahead of the governorship primary.
Oshiomhole, in a letter to the electoral body on the May 29, 2020, had notified the commission that the party had purportedly changed its address in Edo State to a new secretariat.
However, the factional Chairman of the party loyal to Obaseki, Mr. Anselem Ojezua, in a letter dated 9th June, 2020, titled: “Re: Notification of Change of Address, Violation of Relevant Constitution of the party and an attempt to Circumvent Subsisting Court Order”, said Oshiomhole lacked the power to change the address of the party in the state.
The letter was copied to Oshiomhole, the Commissioner of Police Edo State, Director of DSS, Edo State, the Commandant of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps and the Resident Electoral Commissioner in Edo State.
Ojezua cited Article 8 of the party’s constitution, which stipulates that: “The registered office of the party shall be located in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) of Nigeria, while other offices in the state capitals, local government area headquarters, wards and other places shall be determined by the appropriate executive committee and approved by the National Executive Committee.”
Ojezua stated: “Permit me to remind you of the repeated admonition by the superior court of records in this country that political parties must imbibe the culture of obeying or acting in conformity with the provisions of their constitution.
“Surely, the State Executive Committee is the appropriate executive committee contemplated by the said provision and not the person or office of the national chairman of the party.
“This, by the clear provision of our constitution, the national chairman of our party not being a sole administrator thereof, has absolutely no role to play on the issue of the location of the state secretariat in Edo State.
“The action of the national chairman is a ploy to avoid compliance with the consequential effects of the order of the Benin High Court in Suit No. B/277/0S/19: Anselm Ojezua & Others v. Col. lmuse & Ors which granted an injunctive order preserving my status as the state chairman of Edo State chapter of our party.”
Ojezua noted that High Court and the Court of Appeal in Benin have refused the applications by the defendants to set aside the preservative order of injunction which is and was still subsisting in his favour.
He told INEC that members of Edo State Executive Committee of the party, led by him, were duly elected at the last congress held by the party in 2018, noting that INEC has the records of those elected at the congress.
Reacting to the letter, INEC’s Director in charge of Voter Education and Information, Mr. Festus Okoye told THISDAY that the commission does not deal with state chapters of political parties.
He said: “In all issues, we deal with the national chairman and national secretaries of political parties.
“This is the position of the commission in line with session 220 of the 1999 Constitution as amended. During the registration of political parties, it is the highest elected officials of the parties that we deal with in all our correspondences with any political party
” Moreover, the matter on the mode of the Edo State APC governorship primary is in the court and as a policy, INEC will not dabble into any issue before the court. That is prejudice. We can only obey court orders.”
Party Factions Bicker over Alleged Contempt of Court
Ojezua also yesterday said the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu; Chairman of the faction of Edo State APC loyal to Oshiomhole, Col. David Imuse (rtd) and Mr. Chris Azebamwen risked arrest and imprisonment for contempt of court over violation of court orders.
He said in a statement that the three officials had disregarded a court order recognising him as the state chairman of APC.
The three APC chieftains were sued by Ojezua; Deputy Chairman, APC Edo State, Kenneth Asekhomhe and State Organising Secretary, APC, Edo State, for disobeying the interim injunction directing that parties to maintain status quo as 10/11/2019, on the chairmanship of the APC, Edo State chapter, pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice praying for interlocutory injunction.
Ojezua noted that in furtherance of this, in a form 49, the three personalities were served with papers to “take notice that the claimants/applicants will on the 18th of June, 2020 at the hour of 9 o’clock in the forenoon apply to this court for an order for your committal to prison for having disobeyed the order of the High Court of Justice, Benin City, Edo State presided over by Hon. Justice V. O. A. Oviawe.”
He stated that going by the documents Issa-Onilu, Imuse and Azebamwen, breached the court order by parading Imuse as the state chairman of the APC against the orders of the court.
But the Ize-Iyamu Campaign Organisation has dismissed the claim by Ojezua on the chairmanship tussle.
A statement by the Director of Communication and Media, Mr. John Mayaki, said there was no such order by the court.
“How can a case that was never filed, never heard and without participation by lawyers be said to have been ruled on? The simple way to dismiss this falsehood is to ask those peddling the news to provide basic details such as case file number, legal representatives, and Presiding judge,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Edo State chapter of APC loyal to Obaseki has accused Oshiomhole of a deliberate attempt to hand over the state to the opposition by continuously causing crisis in the party.
Publicity Secretary of the faction, Mr. Joseph Osagiede, who spoke to journalists in Benin City, called on the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) and the presidency to rein in Oshiomhole and stop him from gifting Edo to the opposition, like he did in Zamfara, Rivers and Bayelsa, among other states.
Osagiede, who described Obaseki as the best man for the job on account of his massive infrastructural and developmental strides in the state, said the governor had performed well and would be re-elected.