Court to Hear Obaseki’s Motion Challenging Suit on Alleged Perjury Tomorrow

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By Alex Enumah

Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja yesterday adjourned till tomorrow, hearing in an application filed by Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, challenging the competence of the suit seeking his disqualification in the September 19, governorship poll over alleged perjury.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) and one of its chieftains, Mr. Edobor Williams had dragged the governor, his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to court for alleged certificate forgery, amongst others.

The court had at the sitting of November 4, ordered an accelerated hearing of the suit and fixed November 16 for the plaintiffs to open their case against the governor.

However, hearing could not go on as scheduled owing to the argument by Obaseki’s lawyer, Mr Ken Mozia, SAN, that all pending motions relating to pleadings must first be resolved before going into the substantive matter.

Mozia specifically asked the court to allow him move his motion challenging the competence of the reply filed by the APC to the defence of governor Obaseki in the matter.

Responding, plaintiffs’ lawyer, Chief Akin Olujimi, SAN objected to the request of Obaseki’s lawyer and prayed the court to defer all the pending applications and allow him to go straight into the substantive matter by calling his witnesses who were in court.

Responding, PDP’s lawyer, Razak Isenalumhe, who aligned himself with the submissions of Mozia, urged the court to take all pending motions first before delving into the main matter.

In a short ruling, Justice Mohammed held that the motion of Obaseki challenging the competence of APC’s reply to his defence is fundamental because it relates to the pleadings and has to be resolved first.

The judge said that filing of pleadings cannot be said to have been completed when motion challenging the competence of a reply to defence has not been resolved.

He subsequently fixed November 18 for hearing of Obaseki’s motion.

The plaintiffs, in the suit marked FHC/B/CS/74/2020, specifically prayed the court for an order disqualifying Obaseki from contesting the September 19 governorship election in Edo State on the grounds that he supplied false information on oath to INEC, an act said to be contrary to Section 31(5) and (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010.

The plaintiffs in the writ of summons specifically accused the governor of forging his university certificate presented to INEC in aid of his qualification for the governorship election in Edo State.

They also claimed that there are discrepancies in the subject Obaseki claimed he passed in his West African Examinations Council (WAEC) exam and that in his testimonial.

Consequently, they want the court to declare that Obaseki’s claim in his INEC form EC9 at column C, sworn to on June 29, 2020 at the Federal Capital Territory High Court Registry to the effect that he obtained from the University of Ibadan in 1979, a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Classical Studies is false and contrary to Section 31 (5) and (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010.

They also want the court to declare that Obaseki lied on oath when he swore to an affidavit on June 29, 2020 that he worked in Afrinvest Limited from 1994 to 2014 when he retired.

Plaintiffs also urged the court to declare that the PDP, “having sponsored a candidate who supplied false information on oath and presented false/forged certificates to INEC is not entitled to participate in the election scheduled for September 19 or on any other date that may be appointed for the purpose”.

They, therefore, prayed the court for an order disqualifying Obaseki and the PDP from the September 19 governorship election, as well as an order directing INEC to remove the name of the PDP and its candidate from the ballot paper or election records or materials.