By Wandoo Sombo
Gov. Godwin Obaseki of Edo opened his defence on Tuesday at the Federal High Court Abuja, calling two witnesses one of whom was the Deputy Registrar, Legal, University of Ibadan, Mr Abayomi Ajayi.
Ajayi told the court that the fact that some parts of Obaseki’s original degree certificate were missing in the photocopy he attached to his INEC form EC9 and 001 did not amount to forgery.
The witness, who was led in evidence by Mr Ken Mozia (SAN), Obaseki’s counsel, explained that Obaseki’s photocopy was incomplete due to the process of photocopying.
The witness also told the court that the university was not dealing with this allegation for the first time as the Minister of State for Education had once brought the issue before the institution.
He maintained that from the records of the university, Obaseki was admitted as student in 1976 through direct entry and that he graduated in the year 1979, during the tenure of Prof. Tekena Tamino as Vice Chancellor and S.J Okufu as Registrar.
“I will not regard the photocopy of the original certificate as forged but incomplete photocopying because the certificate of the University of Ibadan is larger than the paper upon which the photocopy was made,” Ajayi submitted.
He then went ahead to tender photocopies of various sizes of papers and their outcome when the original was not reduced.
Other documents he tendered to prove that Obaseki was a product of the university included relevant pages of the congregation for admission to degrees, award of diplomas and certificates and 31st Foundation Day Ceremony in September 1979, Obaseki’s application amongst others.
The authorities of university of Ibadan had in June last year, before a Federal High Court in Benin, cleared Obaseki of similar forgery allegations.
The institution said that Obaseki graduated from there and was accordingly awarded the degree certificate of Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Classical Studies in 1979.
Earlier, the first defense witness, Mr Charity Aguobawekhina, Chairman of the Edo State Law Reform Commission, tendered the original of Obaseki’s certificates, including the disputed BA Arts Degree in Classical Studies.
The witness who claimed to be a close associate of Obaseki, informed the court that he made the said incomplete photocopy that Obaseki attached to his nomination form that he submitted to INEC.
He added that part of the photocopy attached to form EC9 were cut off because of the largeness of the original certificate.
Other documents were the University of Ibadan degree certificate obtained in 1979 and another Masters Degree certificate from Pace University obtained by Obaseki as his educational qualification.
All the certificates, which were original copies were admitted as exhibits by the trial judge.
Under cross examination, the witness insisted that the photocopy of the degree certificate, which had the signature of the university’s chief registrar, the date of issuance of the certificate and the name of the vice chancellor did not make the photocopy of the certificate a forged document.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) and one of its chieftains, Mr Williams Edobor, dragged Obaseki to court for allegedly forging his university certificate he submitted to INEC to aid his qualification for the Sept. 19, 2020 governorship election in Edo.
The plaintiffs wanted the court to disqualify Obaseki, who won the election, in the event that he was found to have forged his university degree obtained from the university of Ibadan in 1979.