The intrigues over who clinches the ticket of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the September governorship election in Edo State deepened yesterday with pressure on the ruling party to disqualify the Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, from the race.
The pressure came against the backdrop of the unexplained inconsistencies in his certificates, which were among those the party displayed yesterday at its national secretariat in Abuja.
THISDAY learnt those pushing for Obaseki’s debarment told the APC leadership that given the unexplained inconsistencies in his certificates, the party would be faced with a likely repeat of its experience in Bayelsa State where it won the last November governorship election but its candidate, David Lyon, was stopped on the eve of his inauguration following a judgment of the Supreme Court that voided his election.
A five-man panel of the court, led by Justice Mary Peter-Odili, had overruled the declaration of Lyon along with his running mate, Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, as winner of the governorship election.
It had upheld the November 12, 2019 judgement by Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court in Abuja which had disqualified Degi-Eremienyo in the election for submitting forged certificates with multiple names to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The Supreme Court had ordered INEC to issue fresh certificates to the candidates of the party with the next highest votes and with the required constitutional spread of votes in the results of the election, which are the candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Among the inconsistencies cited in Obaseki’s certificates are that his O/Level results showed that he has three credits but despite that he spent only three years to allegedly bagged a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classical Studies from the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, in 1976, without an A/Level result.
A/Levels are required for a three-year direct entry course in Nigerian universities. If you have O/Level credits in at least five subjects, then University of Ibadan and a indeed other universities required a mandatory four-year course. The question APC is dealing with include: could three O/Level credits/passes have given Obaseki admission into University of Ibadan as required by law? And if indeed, he got the admission, could he have graduated in three years instead of mandatory four years? Would APC not be facing another Bayelsa scenario when the NWC was blamed for fielding a candidate with a dubious certificate?
Besides, there’s a discrepancy in his degree certificate and that of another governorship aspirant, Mr. Chris Ogiemwonyi, who graduated the same year in University of Ibadan with a Postgraduate Diploma in Petroleum Engineering.
In a petition to the Chairman of the Screening Committee for Edo State Gubernatorial Election, some concerned members of APC in the state, Mr. Edobor Williams, Ugbesia Godwin and Amedu Anakhu, warned that the party would be risking another Bayelsa scenario if Obaseki is not disqualified.
In the petition, they said their action was borne out of their passion for APC’s success in the forthcoming governorship election in the state.
In the petition, dated June 8, 2020 and entitled: ‘Petition For The Disqualification of Godwin Obaseki from Participating in the Gubernatorial Primary Election For Edo State, signed on their behalf by their lawyer, Mr. Chisimdi Chima, the petitioners said their findings after a thorough checks on the governor’s background revealed that in 2016, he submitted a false affidavit to INEC to aid his qualification for the then governorship election.
According to them, PDP, which had suspected foul play over the documents submitted to INEC, had approached an Abuja High Court for a Certified True Copy (CTC) of the affidavit of loss of document Obaseki had presented in his form CF 001 to INEC in 2016.
The petitioners said in response to PDP’s request, the Abuja High Court denied issuing any affidavit to the governor.
Based on the above, the petitioners stated that the letter of the court to PDP dated September 28, 2016, “clearly established the element of false affidavit on the part of Godwin Obaseki, which makes him disqualified.”
The petitioners added: “Any political party that fields such a disqualified candidate would be fined under section 31( 8 ) of the Electoral Act.”
The trio said they wanted Obaseki investigated for allegedly falsifying a public document and submitting same to INEC for official use following the governor’s interest in participating in the forthcoming governorship election.
They also called for Obaseki to be investigated over his alleged academic qualifications, which he submitted to INEC in 2016.
They said: “The problem with Obaseki educational history is that it appears fraudulent as no explanation has been reasonably offered why a four-year academic progamme was completed in three years against the established course requirement for the completion of a degree programme in Classical Studies.”
According to them, the governor claimed that he obtained a degree in Classical Studies from the University of Ibadan in three years after gaining admission from Eghosa Grammar School with only three credit pass in his Ordinary Level certificate.
“It is indeed very questionable when one imagines how Mr. Obaseki secured the admission into University of Ibadan with just three credit pass in his ordinary level certificate at a time when the educational system was purely on merit,” they stated.
While they noted that the three-year degree programme was, and is still applicable to only students with Advanced Level certificate/Diploma/National Certificate of Education, they said the governor never showed that he possessed an A’Level certificate to qualify for a three-year programme.
They therefore prayed the screening committee to disqualify Obaseki for alleged falsehood.
Attached to the petition include copies of the sworn affidavit dated June 7, 2016, letter from Chief Ferdinand Orbih SAN, September 2, 2016, letter from the FCT High Court, dated October 28, 2016, Form CF 001 submitted to INEC on July 12, 2016 and University of Ibadan revised/new requirements for U.T.M.E and direct entry.
The petitioners also compared Obaseki’s University of Ibadan certificate with that of Ogiemwonyi, who graduated from the school the same year – 1976, saying there are conspicuous differences.
They noted that while Obaseki’s certificate was signed by just the vice chancellor, Ogiemwonyi’s was signed by both the vice chancellor and the registrar of the institution.
The petitioners are already before the Federal High Court in Abuja, to contest the genuineness of the governor’s credentials.