The forgery case against Godwin Obaseki continued on Tuesday with the nomination form he submitted to INEC ahead of the September governorship election scaling legal fireworks before it was accepted by the court.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed who admitted and marked the document known as Form EC9, alongside other attachments that accompanied it, as Exhibit PL-2 ruled that admitting the form was crucial to dispensing justice in the case.
He made his ruling as he dismissed objections by the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, over the admissibility of the document as tendered by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
INEC had been summoned by the plaintiffs, Mr. Williams Edobor and the All Progressives Congress, APC to present the forms and attached documents presented by Obaseki to help their case that the University of Ibadan certificate presented by Obaseki was a forgery.
Besides the forgery case against Godwin Obaseki on the issue of the University certificate, Edobor and APC are also alleging significant discrepancies in the subjects that Obaseki claimed he passed in his West African Examination Council (WAEC) exam and subjects in his testimonial.
In that wise, the APC and Edobor are praying the court to affirm that Obaseki committed perjury by knowingly submitting forged documents to INEC contrary to to Section 31 (5) and (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010.
The plaintiffs are also seeking the court to declare that Obaseki committed perjury by claiming to have worked at Afrinvest between 1994 and 2014 against the impression that he worked for the Edo State Economic Management Team between 2008 and 2015.
On Tuesday, an INEC official, Mr. Samuel Omale tendered the nomination form presented by Mr. Obaseki to the commission.
Mr. Ken Mozia, SAN, who is Obaseki’s lawyer and the PDP’s lawyer, Mr. Razaq Isenalohme, had prayed the court to stop Omale saying that he lacked the capacity to tender the documents before the court.
According to Mozia, the INEC lawyer did not file a written witness deposition as required by Order 20 Rule 3 of the Federal High Court Rules.
According to him, the documents were not duly certified as prescribed by the Evidence Act.
“My lord, ex-facia from the document, there is no proof of payment as mandatorily required by section 104 (1) of the Evidence Act”, he added.
Similarly, PDP’s lawyer, Mr. Isenalohme faulted the submission of the form which he said was generated from a computer download and as such did not meet the provisions of the Evidence Act.
In his response to the submissions, counsel to the plaintiffs, Chief Akin Olujimi, SAN, asked the court to dismiss the objections of the defendants.
“I agree that when a witness is subpoenaed to produce a document pursuant to section 219 of the Evidence Act, that such a person does not become a witness by the mere fact that he produced the document and cannot be cross-examined, unless and until he is called as a witness.
“However, the mere fact that a witness was sworn on oath in error does not derogate from the fact that he was merely subpoenaed to produce a document and cannot be subjected to a cross-examination”, Olujimi submitted.
“There is no element of surprise here because both the Plaintiff, the 1st and 2nd Defendants are also seeking to rely on this same document.
“This is an official document in the custody of the 3rd Defendant (INEC), to whom it was submitted to by the 1st Defendant.
“INEC is the 3rd Defendant in this case. There is no way I can ask an adverse party to come and make a statement on oath. The only way to bring him before your lordship is by an order compelling him to appear before this court”, he added.
He also denied the claim that the form was downloaded from a website.
Giving his ruling on the arguments, Justice Mohammed admitted the form on the claim that the case mainly rested on the form.
“In fact, without the Form EC9, this case will collapse like a pack of cards”, Justice Mohammed ruled.
Meanwhile, the forgery case against Obaseki will on Wednesday see the defence open its defence and call his witnesses.