….Awards N1m Cost Against Party
The Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) challenging the academic qualification of the Edo Governor Godwin Obaseki.
A five-man panel of the apex court, in a judgment on Friday, held that the appellants – APC and one of its chieftains, Edobor Williams – failed to prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.
Justice Emmanuel Agim, in the lead judgment, held the appellants failed woefully to prove their case having not provided any disclaimer from the school, to the effect that the certificate, whose authenticity they challenged, was not issued to Obaseki by the institution.
The court proceeded to uphold the March 18, 2021 judgment of the Court of Appeal, which earlier affirmed the January 9, 2021 judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja, upholding the authenticity of the first decree certificate (in Classics) issued to Obaseki by the University of Ibadan (UI).
The three-man panel of the Court of Appeal, led by Justice Stephen Adah, had in a unanimous judgment on March 18, upheld the argument by Obaseki’s legal team, led by Ken Mozia (SAN), that the appeal by the APC and Williams was without merit.
The Court of Appeal held the Federal High Court, in its judgment by Justice Ahmed Mohammed, was right to have held that the appellants failed to prove their 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.
Justice Mohammed had, in his judgment of January 9, 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.
He added that Obaseki 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.
Justice Mohammed said: “Interestingly, all the plaintiffs’ witnesses admitted, under cross-examination, that none visited UI to verify the authenticity of the first defendant’s degree certificate.”
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