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Edo, Ondo polls: Fresh Legal Hurdles for Obaseki, Ajayi

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Edo, Ondo polls: Fresh Legal Hurdles for Obaseki, Ajayi

Edo, Ondo polls: Fresh Legal Hurdles for Obaseki, Ajayi
July 19
11:11 2020

Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State, his deputy Mr. Philip Shaibu and the Ondo State Deputy Governor, Mr. Agboola Ajayi, are facing fresh battles in the run-up to the coming governorship elections.

Different individuals filed suits in courts to seek their disqualification.

Obaseki and Shaibu are seeking a fresh mandate in the September 19 election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) while Ajayi wants the PDP ticket in Ondo State.

They were all members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) until last month when they switched camps.

The plaintiffs in the suit against Obaseki and Shaibu are the APC and one of its members, Mr. Edobor Williams.

Shaibu, in the suit with reference number FHC/B/CS/75/2020, is alleged to have presented a forged West African School Certificate and tax clearance certificates to INEC, contrary to Section 31 of the Electoral Act and Section 182 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

In the suit against Obaseki, with reference number FHC/B/CS/74/2020, the plaintiffs want a  declaration that the governor, in INEC’s form EC9 at Column C, thereof sworn to on June 29, 2020 at the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court Registry, Abuja to the effect that he obtained from the University of Ibadan (UI) in 1979 a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in Classical Studies, was false and contrary to Section 31 (5) and (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended.

In the alternative, the plaintiffs want a declaration that Obaseki’s INEC Form CF001 at Column “C” thereof sworn to on July 11, 2016 at the High Court Registry, Benin City, to the effect that he obtained from UI in 1976, a BA degree in Classical Studies was false and contrary to Section 31 (5) and (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended.

Also being sought by them are: a declaration that Obaseki’s statement contained in INEC’s form EC9 at Column “D” thereof sworn to on June 29, 2020 at FCT High Court Registry, Abuja, to the effect that he worked in Afriinvest Limited from 1994 to 2014, when he retired, was false and contrary to Section 31 (5) and (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended;

A declaration that Obaseki’s presentation of a BA degree in Classical Studies from UI, with a sole signatory of the Vice-Chancellor and no effective date of award, as against the standard operating procedure of the Examinations, Records and Administrative Data Processing Division of UI, amounts to the presentation of a forged/false certificate to INEC, contrary to the provisions of Section 182 (1) (j) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN), 1999, as altered;

A declaration that Obaseki’s presentation of Advanced Level WAEC certificate, dated June 1976, which showed that Obaseki sat for examination in subjects materially different from those shown in the testimonial of the Institute of Continuing Education of September 25, 1975, where Obaseki was a student and from where he purportedly wrote the said examination, amounts to the presentation of a forged/false certificate to INEC, contrary to the provisions of Section 182 (1) (j) of the Constitution of FRN, 1999, as altered.

The plaintiffs are also praying the court  for an order disqualifying Obaseki from contesting the Edo state governorship election on September 19 or on any other date that might be approved for the purpose, on the grounds that Obaseki supplied false information on oath to INEC, contrary to Section 31 (5) and (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended.

The plaintiffs want INEC to be ordered to remove Obaseki’s name from the list of nominated or sponsored candidates for the crucial election, while PDP should be restrained from participating in the election, among others.

The plaintiffs are being represented by Chief Wole Olanipekun, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN); Roland Otaru, SAN; A.T. Kehinde, SAN; Kehinde Ogunwumiju, SAN; Dr. Ehiogie West-Idahosa, the head of Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu’s/APC’s legal team; and six other eminent legal practitioners.

A chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ondo State, Mr.Konstante Timi Olopele, is asking a State High Court, Akure to disqualify Deputy Governor Agboola Alfred Ajayi from participating in Wednesday’s primary of the party.

Olopele claims Ajayi breached  the extant laws regulating the West African Examination Council (WAEC) and the Nigerian Law School attendance when he served as elected Local Government Chairman and member of the House of Representatives respectively.

A group, the Sunshine Redemption Group (SRG) separately wants him disqualified on the grounds that he submitted only his secondary school certificate to contest the governorship election.

Governor Rotimi Akeredolu with whom Ajayi recently parted ways ahead of defection to the PDP yesterday described the deputy governor as a wrong choice by him for the 2016 election.

Olopele, in the suit filed by Akpofiwei Anthony Macleans of AMAC Solicitors, said the Ondo Deputy Governor breached the code of conduct for public officers and ought to be banned from holding any public office for a maximum period of 10 years.

Plaintiff said Ajayi has consistently acted in breach of Section 1, 5th Schedule, Part1 of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers and Section 9 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

He hinged his prayer for the disqualification on the alleged breach of the provisions of the regulations of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) Act, Cap W4 Law of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004.

Olopele argued that Ajayi breached the extant laws regulating WAEC and Nigerian Law School attendance while he served as elected Local Government Chairman and member of the House of Representatives respectively.

On its part, the Sunshine Redemption Group (SRG), in a statement by its Chairman, Mr. Emmanuel Agbara, and Secretary, Chief Ebiemi Williams, said Ajayi should be disqualified for submitting only his secondary school certificate to contest the governorship election.

It claimed that Ajayi’s decision not to present his law degree certificate from Igbinedion University, Okada, Edo State, and his  Nigerian Law School certificate left many questions unanswered.

It wondered why Ajayi was reluctant or afraid of presenting now the same sets of certificate he used to contest for the  House of Representatives and the office of deputy governor.

“The truth is that PDP risks a potential jeopardy in the candidature of Agboola Ajayi if he is allowed to contest for the party’s governorship ticket next Wednesday,” it said.

“If he is sure that he graduated from the University and the Law School as he officially claimed in the past, let him submit those certificates along with his school certificates, but we know he dare not.”

But Ajayi said he was unperturbed by the “sound and fury” of those making allegations against him.

His spokesman, Babatope Okeowo, said: “The facts and issues in the matter are the same as the case already adjudicated upon by the Court of Appeal in case appeal number: CA/B/EPT/330A/2008 between the Deputy Governor, Hon. Agboola Ajayi (then Member of the National Assembly) and Prince Olubukola Ebietomiye of the Democratic People’s Alliance (DPA) in 2007, wherein the Appellant was absolved of any wrongdoing.”

He urged his supporters to “be focused and undeterred.”

He added: “These are deliberate attempts made to distract attention. We know their principal sponsor and his antics. Just like the impeachment plot, this too will fall.”

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Mujeeb

Mujeeb

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