•Won’t appeal decision, urges supporters to remain calm and await further directives
By Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and Adibe Emenyonu
Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State yesterday vowed not to appeal his disqualification by the Governorship Election Primary Screening Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC), noting that his disqualification “is a mockery of the democratic process.”
The APC screening committee had yesterday declared Obaseki and two others, ineligible to contest in the July 22 governorship primary election in Edo State.
It said the Edo State Governor was disqualified because the committee could not vouch for the authenticity of the Higher School Certificate Obaseki claimed.
But Obaseki said the screening and eventual report was a ruse.
In a statement, his Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie, said: “We have watched the mockery of democratic process, which Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is administering and superintending over in our great party the All Progressives Congress. It has been an unfortunate, disheartening and dreadful spectacle.
“We had initially asserted that going by the open display and enthronement of illegality by one man in the party that comprises several organs and eminent personalities, there is no way Governor Godwin Obaseki would get a fair assessment in the run up to the nomination of candidates to fly the flag of the party in the forthcoming Edo gubernatorial election.”
He added: “It is unfortunate that this open show of shame, illegality and travesty of justice is the brand of democracy which Comrade Oshiomhole has reduced the APC into. The situation is quite saddening because this is a party supposedly reputed for change, equity and social justice.
“We have therefore decided that it would be effort in futility to appeal whatever the unjust outcome of the evaluation and screening process of the APC will be, especially when Comrade Oshiomhole has declared that he is the Supreme Court and ultimate determiner of the fate and future of our great party.
“We wish Oshiomhole luck in his maladministration of the party and trust that the Almighty will help our country to find the path to true liberty, freedom and justice. We call on all party members and the teeming supporters of Governor Obaseki to remain calm and await further directives.”
In his reaction, a former National Chairman of APC, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, said the party would suffer dire consequences in Edo State for disqualifying Obaseki.
Odigie-Oyegun described outcome of the screening as a hatchet job “aimed at installing a stooge that will allow some people unfettered access to the Edo treasury.”
This was contained in a statement signed by his Media Adviser, Chief Ray Morphy, in Abuja.
Odigie-Oyegun: “While not a surprise, that disqualification is a clear indication that internal democracy has been murdered in APC, a party which we founded on the principles of fair play and good conscience!
“I daresay that APC will suffer dire consequences in Edo state if this disqualification is not speedily reversed.
“As a matter of fact, Oshiomhole is indeed the one who is guilty of anti-party activities, not Obaseki. Oshiomhole is the one who is acting unconstitutionally not Obaseki. I hope that Oshiomhole will not go down in history as the undertaker of APC.”
The screening committee announced the disqualification of Obaseki yesterday while presenting its report to the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee in Abuja.
Apart from Obaseki, the two other disqualified aspirants were Chris Ogiemwonyi and Mathew Iduoriyekenwen.
The Chairman of the panel, Prof. Jonathan Ayuba, explained that Obaseki was disqualified because the committee could not vouch for the authenticity of the Higher School Certificate he claimed but could not produce.
The committee held that the document Obaseki produced only attested to his attendance.
The seven-man screening committee said the report was conclusive, adding that all members of the panel signed the report.
Ayuba said that the committee was thorough in the manner in which it conducted the exercise.
He explained that the Committee recorded live, the interaction with each of the aspirant, adding that the unedited clip was submitted as part of its report.
According to him, “We want to be judged by what we have done and not by what a third party says or by rumour. The methodology we used is clear. It was evidence-based. All we did was an interaction. We screened six aspirants, three were eligible to contest and three were deemed ineligible to participate.”
Ayuba stressed that the first candidate screened was Mr. Osaro Obazee, stressing that after his screening and the verification of the candidate’s documents, the committee found him eligible to contest the primary.
The committee noted that on the part of Ogemwonyi, the name on all the certificates he presented were in contradiction with one another.
Ayuba added that considering the discrepancy in all the certificates presented and also the difference in the names contained in the sworn affidavit of June 2016, the committee decided that Ogemwonyi did not meet the requirement to participate in the primary of the APC.
The committee chairman said that Obaseki in his nomination form, claimed to have obtained a Higher School Leaving Certificate (HSLC) from an Institute of Continuing Education, Benin.
Though, the attestation presented by the governor, which was displayed at the party Secretariat for two days, showed that he offered English, Literature, General paper and Economics for the Higher School Certificate (HSC).
Ayuba stated: “It was observed however that no educational certificate such as Higher School Leaving Certificate (HSLC) is known in Nigerian educational system. Even then, the same HSLC was never presented in the course of the screening exercise. The aspirant admitted that he never collected it.
“The attestation from the Institute of Continuing Education, Benin from where the alleged HSLC which was indicated in the field of attendance as obtained is of no consequence, as it only attests that Obaseki was a student of the Institute. So what we had was like an attendance, it was not a result.
“Although, the Committee received a petition on his University of Ibadan Bachelor of Arts Classics certificate which he submitted to INEC in 2016, when he first contested as governor. The committee, on further probing, was presented with original certificate issued by the University and the original was sighted.
Ayuba also noted that Iduoriyekemwen was equally disqualified because he had instituted a case before a court against the party.
However, the committee cleared Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu, Dr. Pius Odubu and Hon. Osaro Obazee for the June 22 governorship primary.
Speaking after the screening committee made his outcome known, the national chairman of the party, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, said that the screening committee’s report was still subject to the appeal committee if those disqualified wish to appeal.
“Disqualified aspirants have been advised to take full advantage of the appeal mechanism if they wish to. The appeal committee has been put on notice to hear the appeal arising from this report,” Oshiomhole said.