Adeyinka Adedipe, Benin
The Independent National Electoral Commission has said only the courts can disqualify Governor Godwin Obaseki based on the certificate he presented for re-election, noting that certificates presented are regarded as authentic until proved otherwise by the court.
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The electoral body also said it could not investigate the originality and authenticity or otherwise of the disputed certificate/document which Obaseki presented to the commission for the governorship election because it was beyond its responsibility.
The Peoples Democratic Party had admitted that there were noticeable errors in Obaseki’s certificate but explained that it was while filling the forms for the election in 2016 that Obaseki inadvertently and mistakenly wrote 1976 in a portion of the form for the year of the graduation which year was the year of his admission into the University of Ibadan.
PDP had said, “At the time Obaseki was completing his Form CF001 in 2016, he deposed to an affidavit stating that he had misplaced the originals of all of his certificates while changing offices with the intention to apply for a re-issuance if his certificates”.
However, the PDP also blamed the error in Obaseki’s certificate on the mechanism of the photocopier saying, “the original certificate was issued in A5 size; however, in order for the photocopy of the certificate to be attached to the Form CF001, the size was reduced to A4 and in the process, leaving out some information on the certificate”.
INEC, being the 1st respondent in the petition filed by Action Democratic Party to the Edo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal holding in Benin City, in a certified true copy containing its reply and obtained by our reporter said, “It is also not the duty of the first respondent (INEC) to investigate the origin of the said documents duly submitted to it.”
A reply signed by INEC’s lead counsel, Mr. Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, read, “The information given by the 3rd respondent (Mr. Godwin Obaseki) in the affidavit and documents submitted by him as a candidate at the election in INEC’s nomination form (Form C.F. 001) are presumed manifestly true or prima facie correct until and only if the contrary is proved and/or pronounced false by an order of the court”.