There are strong indications that the joint governorship ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party ((PDP) in the scheduled September 19, 2020 election may be legally encumbered.
This is because the All Progressives Congress (APC) has headed to court to seek the disqualification of the governor of Edo state, Mr Godwin Obaseki and his deputy, Mr Philip Shaibu who are on the PDP ticket.
The crux of the suit is alleged falsified academic qualifications and alleged tax fraud.
The details are contained in court documents filed at the Federal High Court in Benin by West-Idahosa & Co.
The suit, filed by the All Progressives Congress and Mr. Edobor Williams, a member of the party, highlights a number of inconsistencies in academic credentials provided to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by the duo of Mr Godwin Obaseki and Mr Philip Shuaibu.
Recall that Mr Obaseki and Mr Shaibu had previously been elected on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, but recently decamped to the PDP after Obaseki was disqualified for inconsistencies in his academic credentials during the APC’s pre-primaries screening process.
The APC alleges that Mr Obaseki, who claims to have graduated from the University of Ibadan, did not meet the minimum entry requirements for gaining admission into the university as he had only three credits and two passes in the school certificate result purportedly issued to him by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC).
He also did not attach any evidence of having attended primary school.
Documents further show that in Form EC9 which was submitted to INEC, Mr Obaseki represented himself as having gained admission into the University of Ibadan on the strength of the result issued by WAEC, as he did not list any other O/Level certificate.
He also submitted a testimonial from the Institute of Continuing Education in Benin City, showing that he sat for A/Level examinations in History, English, Literature, Economics and General Paper in May/June 1975; this is, however, at variance with the A/Level certificate which he also submitted, and which showed that he obtained grades in Religious studies, Government and Economics.
It is also worthy of note that in 2016, when Mr. Obaseki deposed to an affidavit claiming that he had lost his original primary, secondary, university and National Youth Service Corps certificates, he stated that he had obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Classical Studies from the University of Ibadan in 1976 and provided a photocopy of his certificate to that effect. This however raises even more questions as in the INEC Form EC9 which was filled in June 2020, he stated that this same qualification was obtained in 1979, with a completely different certificate attached.
The photocopy from 2016 bears the signature of the Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar, while the certificate submitted in 2020 is undated and bears only the signature of the Vice Chancellor of the University, an unusual occurrence in the academia. The Vice Chancellor whose signature is featured on the certificate is Professor Takena Tamuno, who held the position from 1975 to 1979, but could not possibly have appended his signature to the new certificate as he died in April 2015.
▪︎Shaibu’s Many Troubles
Mr. Philip Shaibu, who is on a joint ticket with Mr. Obaseki, seems to be in even more dire straits. In addition to being accused of providing falsified certificates and obtaining educational qualifications through fraudulent means, there is also an outstanding allegation of tax fraud dating back to over a decade.
Academic qualifications listed by Mr. Shaibu include a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Jos, a notification of higher degree examination result from the University of Benin, and a senior secondary school testimonial from Sardauna Memorial College, Kaduna.
The APC, however, argues that Mr. Shaibu fraudulently obtained his Bachelors and Masters degrees from the University of Jos and the University of Benin respectively, as he did not attain the minimum requirement for gaining admission into the university having recorded credit and above in only two subjects in two separate results issued by the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) in 1989 and 1997 respectively.
The party also pointed out discrepancies in both certificates. The WAEC result from 1989 is for a “Shuaibu Philip”, contrary to his name on official and public records, which is “Philip Shaibu”. To further validate doubts about his WAEC result, the name on the second certificate is “Shiabu Philip”.
Mr. Shaibu, while applying to the school of post-graduate studies at the University of Benin, also listed grades obtained from a WAEC exam which he supposedly sat for in 1993. A record of this does not exist.
The APC alleges that in order to circumvent these uncomfortable truths, Mr. Shaibu provided only his secondary school testimonial, a statement of degree programme from the University of Jos and a notification of higher degree from the University of Benin. However, these also suffice as evidence that he obtained qualifications which he did not, in fact, meet the requirement for.
Documents show that some time between December 15 and 20, 2006, Mr. Shaibu attached a fraudulent tax clearance certificate to INEC Form CF 001 while he was running for a seat in the Edo State House of Assembly. He claimed to be a staff of Zacknot Ventures Nigeria Limited, and this led to the Managing Director of the company, Mr. Zakari Ayonote lodging a complaint against him with law enforcement agents.
Mr. Shaibu was subsequently charged to the Benin City High Court in case B/ICPC/1/13 by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) for giving false information to officers of the Edo State Internal Revenue Service. The case was pending until 2016 when Mr. Shaibu became deputy governor, and the case was eventually struck out due to constitutional immunity which the office conferred on him.
The APC is thus seeking the disqualification of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from the upcoming polls and the disqualification of both Mr. Obaseki and Mr. Shaibu for providing forged certificates to INEC, in line with provisions of Section 182(1)(J) of the Constitution.
The party further seeks to ensure that all votes cast for the PDP at the polls will be declared null and void, and that INEC removes the names of Mr. Obaseki and Mr. Shaibu from the list of approved candidates for the Edo election, and that the PDP is prevented from embarking on any campaign activity.