By Eric Ikhilae, Abuja

  • Party to pay governor N350,000 cost

  • Governor: it’s victory for Edo people

The Court of Appeal in Abuja on Thursday dismissed the appeal filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) against the January 9, 2021 judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja affirming the authenticity of the academic certificates presented by Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki.

The three-man panel of the court, led by Justice Stephen Adah, unanimously upheld the argument by Obaseki’s legal team, led by Ken Mozia (SAN), that the APC appeal and one of its members was without merit.

The judgment was on the appeal filed by the APC and Edobor Williams.

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The appellate court held that the Federal High Court, in its judgment by Justice Ahmed Mohammed, was right to have held that the party failed to prove its claim that Obaseki presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to contest the last governorship election in Edo State.

In upholding the judgment of the Federal High Court, the Appeal Court further held that Justice Mohammed’s verdict was without ambiguity and that the APC did not prove its case.

“The findings of the lower court cannot be faulted,” it held, and awarded N250,000 cost in favour of Obaseki, and N50,000 each for his political party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the INEC.

The judge described the attitude of the plaintiffs as lazy, saying they did not make any effort to cross-check from UI and the West African Examination Council (WAEC), the two institutions that issued the certificates they claimed Obaseki forged.

Justice Mohammed added that Obaseki also did not only tender the original copies of his certificates – from primary to university level – he also called a Deputy Registrar from UI, who confirmed that the governor attended the institution and that the certificate he parades is genuine, authentic and was duly issued to him by the school.

He added: “Interestingly, all the defendants admitted, under cross-examination, that none visited UI to verify the authenticity of the first defendant’s degree certificate.”

Also, Obaseki yesterday hailed the Appeal Court judgment which cleared him of certificate forgery allegations.

In a statement last night, he said: “The judgment today by the Appeal Court sitting in Abuja is a victory for democracy, equity, fairness and justice. It further reassures confidence in the Judiciary as an impartial umpire.

“From the content of the judgment, ab initio, all Edo people knew there was no merit in the case. It was ill-willed. It is comforting that the Judiciary has upheld the truth and the verdict of Edo people.”

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