By Ozioruva Aliu – Benin City
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said that its inability to investigate and disqualify Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, over controversial documents he had presented to the electoral umpire was because there was no court order to that effect and as such is beyond its responsibilities.
INEC made this report as part of its reply to the petition filed by the Action Democratic Party (ADP) which is challenging the victory of Obaseki in the September 19 governorship election.
The PDP had admitted that the alleged errors in Obaseki’s certificate were made in the course of filling his forms for the election in 2016 where Obaseki was said to have mistakenly written 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.
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 PDP blamed the alleged error in Obaseki’s certificate on 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”.
But INEC said it was not in the position to disqualify the governor for alleged certificate forgery but that only a competent court of jurisdiction could do that.
INEC, being the 1st respondent in the petition filed by Action Democratic Party (ADP) to the Edo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal, in a certified true copy containing its reply said, “it is also not the duty of the first respondent (INEC) to investigate the origin of the said documents duly submitted to it”.
The reply signed by INEC’s lead counsel, Mr Adegboyega Awomolo, SAN, said: “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”.