The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has responded to the petition filed by Action Democratic Party (ADP) at the Edo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal holding in Benin City, saying that it lacks the power to disqualify Governor Godwin Obaseki over the alleged fake certificate he presented to the Commission.
The electoral umpire, in its response to the petition, regretted its inability to investigate and disqualify Obaseki over the somewhat controversial certificate he had presented saying only “an order of the court” could do so.
INEC also added that it could not investigate the originality and authenticity or otherwise of the disputed certificate/document which the presented to the commission for the governorship election because it was beyond its responsibility.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), it would be recalled, had in its response to the same petition, admitted that there were noticeable errors in Obaseki’s certificate, but explained that it was while filling the forms for the election in 2016, 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.
According to the PDP, “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.”
The party thereafter 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, as the first respondent in the petition filed by ADP, in a certified true copy containing its response, averred that “it is also not the duty of the first respondent (INEC) to investigate the origin of the said documents duly submitted to it.”
According to the reply signed by INEC’s lead counsel, Mr Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), “the information given by the third 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.” (Nigerian Tribune)