Obaseki walks on tight rope in APC’s certificate forgery suit

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▪︎Loses bid to halt hearing

From Kayode Lawal Abuja

Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed of the Federal High Court Abuja, on Tuesday, refused to halt proceedings in the alleged University degree certificate forgery suit brought against Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) and one of its chieftains, Mr Williams Edobor, claim that Obaseki forged a University of Ibadan degree certificate which he used to aid his qualification as candidate for the September 19 governorship election.

They prsy the court to disqualify Obaseki.

But Obaseki, for the second time, asked the court to adjourn hearing in the suit indefinitely pending the determination of an appeal he filed at the Supreme Court against the ruling of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal.

He had in November asked Justice Mohammed to expunge some paragraphs in the plaintiffs’ response to his reply to the suit.

But the judge in his ruling on December 15, declined and ordered parties to call in their witnesses in commencement of hearing.

Obaseki had approached the appellate court to set aside the ruling of Mohammed and consequently expunge the said controversial paragraphs.

In their ruling, a three-man panel of the appellate court presided by Stephen Adah on December 16, dismissed Obaseki’s appeal, ordered a return of the case to Justice Mohammed, adding that hearing of the matter shall be on a daily basis.

Still not satisfied, Obaseki again moved up to the Supreme Court to challenge the ruling of the Court of Appeal, Abuja.

He informed the court that Notice of Appeal had been duly served on the parties in this case.

“Record of Appeal has been duly transmitted from Court of Appeal to Supreme Court on Appeal Number SC /cu/ 989/2020 between Godwin Obaseki and APC and four others.

“We have also filed an application praying the court for a stay of proceedings in this court and praying also for stay in the ruling of the court of appeal delivered on December 16.

“We pray for a restraining order to stop the Court from commencing enforcement of the Court of Appeal order,” Obaseki’s lead counsel, Ken Mozia, SAN, said.

He therefore urged the court to stay proceedings and await the decision of the apex court in respect of Obaseki’s appeal.

Responding, plaintiffs lawyer, Chief Akin Olujimi, SAN, urged the court not to disregard the ruling of the Court of Appeal which held that stay of proceedings should not be granted in time bound matters such as the one before the court.

“The court was emphatic that in view of the provision of the Fourth Alteration, the lower court and Court of Appeal have no jurisdiction to stay proceedings in a pre-election matter where time is of the utmost essence. The court therefore directed that trial Court should continue with the proceedings,” Olujimi said.

In a short ruling, Justice Mohammed declined to stay proceedings and in line with the ruling of the Court of Appeal, adjourned hearing in the matter till the next day, being Wednesday.

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