By Ozioruva Aliu, BENIN CITY
DESPITE still basking in euphoria over the ruling of the Federal High Court in Abuja dismissing the allegation of certificate forgery against Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo state, the University of Ibadan’s (UI’s) Bachelor’s Degree certificate of the governor yesterday resurfaced at Edo State election petitions tribunal in Benin where a forensic expert, Raphael Onwuzuligbo, testified on the allegation of forgery and was cross-examined by the counsel to the respondents.
Onwuzuligbo who said he is a retired Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) appeared based on the subpoena by Action Democratic Party (ADP) and its governorship candidate, Iboi Emmanuel and he claimed that the UI’s certificate presented by Obaseki in 2016 was different from the one he presented in 2020 to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He was examined by the lead counsels to INEC, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN; PDP, Rotimi Oguneso, SAN; Obaseki, Ken Mozia, SAN; APC, Emmanuel Usoh; and Ize-Iyamu, Austin Osarenkhoe.
ADP and its candidate want in the petition where they sued INEC, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Obaseki, All Progressives Congress (APC) and Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu want the tribunal to disqualify Obaseki because of the discrepancy in his certificate and nullify the votes cast for him.
They want INEC to conduct a fresh election involving all other qualified governorship candidates except PDP and Obaseki.
Justice Yunusa Musa, who led two other judges (Justices Suleiman Yahaya Abubakar and Olufunmilayo Stanley), adjourned till today (Tuesday) for the continuation of hearing in the ADP’s petition.
Also yesterday, the tribunal also heard the petition by the governorship candidate of New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Tracy Agol, who also prayed for an order to compel INEC to conduct fresh elections involving all the qualified candidates, excluding PDP and Obaseki.
In the Agol’s petition, the chairman of the tribunal adjourned till Wednesday for the defence of the second respondent (PDP) while the petitions of Action Peoples Party (APP) and Allied Peoples Movement (APM) have also been slated to be heard at a later date.
They also asked the tribunal to nullify September 19, 2020, the re-election of Obaseki and his deputy, Philip Shaibu, while calling for fresh election by INEC, but to also exclude PDP, Obaseki and his running mate, in view of the call for their disqualification over alleged forgery of their certificates.
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