BEVERLY HILLS, May 28, (THEWILL) – The Supreme Court in Abuja on Friday struck out the appeal of the All People’s Congress (APC) against Edo State’s Governor Godwin Obaseki over the forgery case the party brought against him.
Obaseki won his first term in 2016 as APC’s flag-bearer, but defected in 2020 to become the Governorship Candidate of the rival People’s Democratic Party (PDP) after relations turned sour between him and the Adams Oshiomhole-led APC, whose screening committee disqualified the Edo Governor on the allegation that he had forged his University of Ibadan degree certificate.
Obaseki won the election for a second term in October 2020.
Dissatisfied with the Court of Appeal ruling of March 18, 2021 that dismissed the alleged certificate forgery suit filed by APC against Obaseki, the party, which had earlier flopped in its originating case at the Federal High Court, Abuja, subsequently headed for the Supreme Court.
The apex court has finally ruled that the Appellant failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
Judging that the Appellant should not have bothered to file the case in the first place, as it related to a pre-election matter, the Supreme Court imposed a fine of N1 million on APC.
Rejoicing over the Supreme Court judgement on Friday, Edo State’s Deputy Governor, Comrade Philip Shaibu, described the Nigeria Judiciary as the referee of the country’s democracy through its enforcement of the Rule of Law, and by protecting the powerless against the powerful.
He said: “The ruling of the Supreme Court today has shown that the Judiciary does not lack teeth. The Rule of Law is the strong pillar and rock on which Nigeria’s democracy stands. Every other foundation is made of sinking sand because the Judiciary is no longer bound by artificial limitations.”
He went on to remind fellow politicians that the Supreme Court was not a systematic instrument for the acquisition of political power.
Shuaibu said: “The final judgement today has demonstrated to the world that the Nigerian Judiciary is not a pawn in the hands of desperate politicians to realise their ambition. The Rule of Law has prevailed and this has demonstrated further that no one can sit above the law. Justice is the greatest interest of man and the ligament which binds civilised people together. Today’s judgement has reinforced this saying due to the celebration all over Edo State and other parts of the world.
“The extent to which the Nigerian Judiciary is free to perform its roles, and efficiently too, will determine how developed and how deep-rooted our democracy will be.”
He also commended the Judiciary for waging an unrelenting war against arbitrariness, highhandedness, wickedness and injustice.
In March 2021, the Court of Appeal, in dismissing the suit for lacking in merit, awarded N250,000 costs in favour of Obaseki.
This followed the same path as Justice Ahmed Mohammed of the Federal High Court, Abuja, who on January 9 dismissed the alleged certificate forgery suit against Obaseki.
The High Court Judge had then described the APC’s allegation of certificate forgery as strange, in the light of Obaseki’s Alma Mater, the University of Ibadan, UI, acknowledging him as a bonafide alumnus.
Mohammed said that APC, in crying foul over the degree certificate awarded to Obaseki by the university, behaved like an outsider disowning a child on behalf of a man with whom the child had lived all its life.
The Appeal Court ruled that the lower court was right in its findings and conclusions.
It upheld the testimony of the Deputy Registrar, Legal, University of Ibadan, Abayomi Ajayi, who confirmed that Obaseki indeed attended the university in 1976 and fulfilled all prerequisite requirements for admission to read Classical Studies.