The All Progressives Congress (APC) says it was prepared to meet Governor Godwin Obaseki at the Court of Appeal over a case of forgery and perjury it preferred against him and William Edobor at the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
Chief Akin Olujimi, who is the counsel to the plaintiffs, told the court today that his interest was for the case to be heard and that he would appear at the court of appeal tomorrow for the continuation of the case.
The plaintiffs in the suit marked FHC/B/CS/74/2020, prayed the court for an order disqualifying Obaseki from contesting the September 19th, 2020, 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.
They accused the governor of forging his university certificate presented to INEC to aid his qualification for the governorship election in Edo State. The plaintiffs also claimed that there are discrepancies in the subject Obaseki claimed he passed in his West African Examinations Council (WAEC) exam.
Obaseki through his lawyer, Ken Mozia (SAN) had applied to the Federal High Court to expunge some pleadings of the plaintiffs; an application the court declined.
Obaseki thereafter approached the appellate court to challenge the refusal and decision of the high court to expunge some paragraphs in the APC’s reply to his affidavit and applied for a stay of proceedings and for the matter to be adjourned sine die (indefinitely) at the Federal High Court pending the determination of the appeal.
However, Chief Akin Olujimi, who argued for APC urged the court to dismiss Obaseki’s motion for indefinite adjournment of the certificate forgery suit on the grounds that it was a pre-election matter and was bound by time.
Olujimi contended that since the case had a life span of 180 days that would terminate by January 2021, it was in the interest of justice for the court to continue with proceedings.
His words, “Notwithstanding the documents produced by Obaseki in support of his request for sine die adjournment, this court is still endowed with jurisdiction to proceed with hearing in this certificate forgery suit.
“This court is bound to continue with the hearing since the suit is sui generis. Nothing shall be done to clog the smooth wheel of proceedings in a suit of this nature especially in line with fourth alteration act.”
But the application by the Governor for a permanent stay of prosecution scaled through on Wednesday, further dimming his opportunity to clear his name after a worrisome delay tactics since he was first charged with certificate forgery and perjury pre-Edo State governorship election on September 19th, this year.
Obaseki should have been prosecuted in 2016, when the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) noticed the discrepancies in his academic records but the case suffered tactical delay and was later struck out after the expiration of its statutory 180 days.
The PDP had embarked on a vicious political campaign against the Governor – to pillory him in the court of public opinion, yet never gave him the opportunity to clear his name.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed in a ruling on late Wednesday afternoon said the court was not in doubt that an appeal had been lodged and both counsel conceded. Whether to proceed with the main suit or stay proceedings – the Judge said, “this court is not prepared to go on a collision course with the court of appeal and the suit is adjourned” to allow the appellate court determine the case before it.