The Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) has submitted that only the court could determine the authenticity or otherwise of the controversial certificate submitted to it by incumbent governor of Edo State, and candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Godwin Obaseki, to contest the September 19, 2020 governorship election.
In its reply as the 1st respondent in the petition filed by Action Democratic Party (ADP) at the Edo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal holding in Benin City, a certified true copy which was sighted by the magazine, INEC said, “it is also not the duty of the first respondent (INEC) to investigate the origin of the said documents duly submitted to it,” stressing that it was beyond d its responsibility.
Recall that during the last hearing, the PDP had admitted errors in Obaseki’s certificate but explained that it was while filling the forms for the election in 2016 that he inadvertently and mistakenly wrote 1976 in a portion of the form for the year of graduation which year was the year of his admission into the University of Ibadan.
According to the PDP, “At the time Obaseki was completing his Form CF001 in 2016, he deposed to an affidavit stating that he had misplaced the originals of all of his certificates while changing offices with the intention to apply for a re-issuance of his certificates”.
The PDP also blamed the error on its candidate’s certificate on the mechanism of the photocopier used saying, “the original certificate was issued in A5 size; however, in order for the photocopy of the certificate to be attached to the Form CF001, the size was reduced to A4 and in the process, leaving out some information on the certificate”.
But INEC contended that it was not in a position to disqualify the governor for alleged certificate forgery, stating that only a competent court of jurisdiction could disqualify him.
According to the reply signed by INEC’s lead counsel, Adegboyega Awomolo, senior advocate of Nigeria, SAN, “The information given by the 3rd respondent (Mr. Godwin Obaseki) in the affidavit and documents submitted by him as a candidate at the election in INEC’s nomination form (Form C.F. 001) are presumed manifestly true or prima facie correct until and only if the contrary is proved and/or pronounced false by an order of the court”.