As Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, Philip Shaibu, his deputy, and the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP savour their victory Saturday at a Federal High Court, Abuja over alleged certificate forgery and perjury case brought against the governor by the All Progressives Congress, APC, and one of its members, Williams Edobor, the latter is not giving up the fight as it has indicated its resolve to appeal the judgment, stressing that “it is not the end of the road”.
Dismissing the case, Justice Ahmed Mohammed held that “For the Plaintiffs to insist that Obaseki forged his certificate, even after the school confirmed the genuity of the document, was akin to alleging that someone has no father, even in the presence of the person’s father”.
Mohammed noted that the plaintiffs relied on the photocopied document presented by Obaseki without getting in touch with the university to verify the authenticity of the said certificate, adding that no iota of truth was brought before the court by the plaintiffs who alleged forgery.
The judge held that the Deputy Registrar (Legal) of the University of Ibadan had given evidence in the suit that the university duly issued the certificate to the governor, stressing that Obaseki was duly and properly admitted to study Classics which was later renamed Classical Studies in 1976 and graduated in 1979.
According to Mohammed, “Allegation of forgery borders on crime which must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. In the instant case, no iota of evidence, talk less of a proof beyond reasonable doubt, was brought to prove the allegation of forgery against the first defendant (Mr. Obaseki)”.
He concluded that “Having thoroughly analysed the evidence of this case, it is the conclusion of this court that the defendant did not forge his O-Level Certificate, his HSC certificate, and particularly his University of Ibadan degree certificate. Accordingly, the plaintiffs’ case is dismissed.”
But expressing dissatisfaction with the judgment, Chairman of the state Caretaker Committee of the APC, David Imuse, a retired army colonel, said the party’s legal team would immediately move to study the judgment and file an appeal.
In a statement by the state publicity secretary of the party, Chris Azebanwan, Imuse expressed hope that the judiciary would remain upright and always ensure that the will of the people and rule of law prevail.
According to Imuse, “We thank God also for granting all the lawyers and the judge very good health with which they all contributed to bring the whole litigation process to this interesting stage. It is not the end of the road”. He said all APC members in Edo state are very hopeful like the good democrats and believers in the rule of law that they are, that the Judiciary would continue to show that it is the last hope of the common man. The state caretaker committee chairman however appealed to all APC members in the state to be calm and to go about their normal activities without animosity as the party appeals the verdict.
The victorious Obaseki, expectedly, hailed the verdict of the court describing it as a triumph of the rule of law and a testament to the fact that truth would prevail ultimately no matter how vehemently detractors push lies in the face of incontrovertible evidence.
In a statement, the governor said “The verdict of the Federal High Court delivered by Honourable Justice Ahmed Mohammed is well-received and a victory for the rule of law. It was a most needless attempt by desperate individuals trying to undo the will of the people through the backdoor but we are happy today that justice and truth have prevailed.”
Noting that the verdict confirmed once again that Edo people were well-guided in trusting him to lead them in the September 19, 2020 governorship election, Obaseki promised to continue to prioritise the development of the state not minding the darts thrown by those who are embittered by their loss and continue their attempt to put spanner in the works even when they have been roundly beaten on all fronts”.
The governor appreciated the judiciary which he noted had “stood indefatigably for truth and justice; the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR); my party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); our party leaders and members; my teeming supporters; the good people of Edo State and all Nigerians.”
Also reacting to the judgment, the state chapter of the PDP congratulated the governor on what it described as “the resounding victory” he recorded in the Federal High Court, Abuja, asserting that “It is a testimony to the fact that this government was enthroned by the wish of Edo people and had the blessings of God”.
In a statement by the state publicity secretary of the party, Chris Nehikhare, the PDP said “We advised APC that it was again traveling the road of ignominy instead of joining the government to build a society where hard work is rewarded, where hate should be condemned, and love for a prosperous state the driving spirit of our being. Our advice was ignored!”
According to the PDP, “It is now clear that Edo APC and the news and stories they propagate are built on falsehood, social greed, intellectual imbecility and pathological irresponsibility. Edo people are advised not to only punish them with their votes on election days, but to consider them public enemy number one henceforth!
“However, if each and every one of them own up to their role, tender well-intentioned apologies and commit to be of good character, show respect to Edo people, toe the path of honour and have the decency of admitting to the fact that they spread lies and concocted fake stories to sell their mandate and attempted to dupe the courts, Edo people may show some mercy. After all, Governor Obaseki is a reasonable man. Edo people are reasonable people. It is the most honourable thing to do; it is the most noble step to take”.