A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has dismissed the alleged certificate forgery suit filed against the governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed dismissed the suit filed by the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a chieftain of the party, Williams Edobor, against the governor, in a judgement delivered on Saturday in the nation’s capital.
The APC and Edobor had filed the suit alleging that Governor Obaseki presented a forged certificate to seek re-election in the Edo State governorship election held on September 19, 2020.
According to the plaintiffs, the said document was purportedly issued by the University of Ibadan, while the governor presented same to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which conducted the poll.
In his judgement, Justice Mohammed held that the plaintiffs relied on the photocopied document presented by Governor Obaseki without getting in touch with the university to verify the authenticity of the said certificate.
He added that no iota of truth was brought before the court by the plaintiffs who alleged forgery, saying it was a criminal matter, but the claimants were unable to prove their case.
The judge noted that the Deputy Registrar (Legal) of the University of Ibadan had given evidence in the suit that the university duly issued the certificate to Governor Obaseki.
According to him, the governor was duly and properly admitted to study Classics which was later renamed Classical Studies in 1976 and graduated in 1979.
Justice Mohammed concluded that the plaintiffs failed to prove their allegations of forgery against Governor Obaseki and, thereby, dismissed the case.
He, however, did not award any cost against the plaintiffs.
Before the judgement was delivered, counsels to both parties in the matter had closed their cases after they presented witnesses and evidence to the court.
During proceedings on Thursday, lawyer to the Plaintiffs, Akin Olujimi, adopted his final written address.
He urged the court to affirm their position that the governor presented a forged certificate to the electoral umpire and was unfit to occupy the office.
This was, however, rejected by Governor Obaseki’s counsel, Ken Mozia, who asked the court to dismiss the suit over what he described as the plaintiff’s failure to prove their case.
Governor Obaseki contested and won the governorship election on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), in a bid to extend his stay in office by another four years.
Although he was elected into office for the first term on the APC platform, the governor later defected from the party after he was screened out from the party’s primary which saw Mr Osagie Ize-Iyamu emerging as the APC flagbearer for the election.
This came in the middle of a lingered dispute between the governor and his predecessor and immediate past APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
After defecting from the APC, he got the PDP’s ticket and went ahead to defeat Ize-Iyamu for the second time to claim the governorship seat in what can be described as a dramatic switch of political parties.
Governor Obaseki had defeated Ize-Iyamu as the APC candidate in the 2016 governorship election while the latter was the PDP candidate.
Four years later, he secured 307,955 of the total votes, 84,336 more votes than Ize-Iyamu who got 223, 619 votes.
Alleged N10bn scam: Secondus demands N1bn, retraction from Afegbua
Following this week’s allegation of financial fraud to the tune of N10 billion made against Prince Uche Secondus, national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP by Kassim Afegbua, the former, Thursday, demanded a retraction of the story and payment of N1 billion in damages from Afegbua.
Secondus through his counsel, Emeka Etiaba, threatened to take legal action against Mr. Afegbua within 48 hours if he fails to meet his demands.
Afegbua had accused Secondus of mismanaging the sum of N10 billion which he claimed accrued to the party from the sales of nomination forms for the 2019 election; a claim punctured by party spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, who noted that the party realized the sum of N4.
The PDP boss noted that Afegbua, a former Information Commissioner in Edo state had in two national dailies as well as in a petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission, ICPC, said that “much of the financial transaction of the PDP under Prince Uche Secondus have been shrouded in mystery.”
Afegbua also accused the Secondus leadership of using the bank account of Morufu Nigeria Limited in the sale of nomination forms in 2019, instead of the party’s account.
However, Secondus in a letter from Emeka Etiaba Chambers and addressed to Afegbua through his counsel, Kayode Ajulo and Co obtained by Vanguard demanded the sum of N1billion from Afegbua within 48 hours failure to which he will be sued for libel.
“The two publications made by you were given prominence on the front pages of the Newspapers you employed for your defamatory actions and the publications were widely circulated and read’.
The letter captured some of the prominent federal political positions Secondus held in the past including chairman, National Insurance Commission; Chairman, National Identity Management Commission; Member, Nigerian Railway Board, stating that he “kept an unblemished reputation.
The letter continued: “Your publications which you know to be false have therefore brought him to odium and has challenged his right standing in the society as a trustworthy character.
“The publications were read worldwide and most especially in all nooks and crannies of Nigeria and this fact has been confirmed by the phone calls that have trailed your publications.
Take notice that if you fail to retract your said publications, apologize to our client in the said newspapers with the same prominence with which you published the offensive statements and pay the sum N1,000,000,000.00 (One Billion Naira) to him as damages (all within 48 hours from the date hereof), we shall proceed to institute an action to seek redress from a court of competent jurisdiction”.
Meanwhile, when our correspondent contacted Afegbua for his reaction, he had this to say: “When I receive the letter, I will respond to it. I will consult my lawyers. I haven’t received any letter. But I cannot be intimidated or distracted from pursuing accountability in PDP. That will be my initial reaction.”
We Cannot Suspend Strike Now, JUSUN Tells CJN
The national officials of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) had told the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Ibrahim Tanko Muhammad that it would be very difficult for it to call off its ongoing strike now.
The CJN had, at an earlier meeting with JUSUN leaders on April 6, asked the union to call off the strike in view of its adverse effect on the justice system in the country. According to a statement issued by the Senior Special Assistant on Media to the CJN, Ahurakah Isah, the JUSUN officials, led by its Deputy National President, Emmanuel Abioye and Jimoh Musa Alonge (Treasurer), explained why the union found it difficult to heed the CJN’s demand to call off the strike.
‘’Though there’s financial autonomy for the judiciary already in some states while some are assuring that they would comply, others have to take steps in readiness for compliance,’’ Abioye said. According to Abioye, the union expects each state to start implementing its selfaccounting law to deal with the Internally Generated Revenue in line with Section 121(3) of the 1999 Constitution as amended; and that states without such law should put it in place.
Abioye said it is his union’s position that there must be some level of seriousness from all quarters and, as such, the amount standing to the credit of the judiciary from the monthly federal allocation should be deducted directly from the source by the Accountant General of the Federation and remit same to the National Judicial Council (NJC) for onward transmission to heads of courts.
He said for the Federation Consolidated Account also known as Federal Allocation, the budget of each state judiciary submitted to the implementation committee (received) on October 2, 2020 should be implemented by deducting the amount due to the state judiciary directly from source by Accountant General of the Federation AGF) in line with Sections 81(3) and 162(9) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) for the states. “In other words, the AGF should deduct from the monthly Federal Allocation and remit it to NJC for onward transmission of the fund to the Heads of Courts at the State Judiciary.
“Until this is done, there is no going back, the strike would go on.’’ However, the CJN said it has become difficult to fault the idea of the strike since the rights of the union and its members which are clearly defined in the Constitution are being denied, especially at state level. ‘’I can’t fault your reasons for embarking on this protest because the union wants its rights restored in line with the provisions of the Constitution. I commend you for following due process so far to protest against the injustice,’’ the CJN said.
JUSUN insists allocations must be deducted at source, as govs beg members to call off strike
The Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN) has insisted that each state must implement its self-accounting law in dealing with Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).
In a statement issued by its General Secretary I. M. Adetola, in Kaduna, on Thursday, the Union maintained that states must implement the Fund Management Law in dealing with the state consolidated funds, in accordance with Section 121(3) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as amended.
This is as governors through the platform of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) on Thursday implored the union to call off its strike, and pledged to implement the financial autonomy for the judiciary.
JUSUN maintained that the monthly federal allocation to the judiciary should be deducted directly from the source by Accountant General of the Federation and remitted to National Judicial Council (NJC) for onward transmission to heads of courts,
“For the Federal Allocation, the Budget of each State Judiciary submitted to the implementation committee (received on Oct.
“This is in accordance with Section 81(3), Section 162(9) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic Nigeria (as amended) for the states. The Accountant General of the Federation should be directed accordingly,” he said.
The union also called for the payment of the arrears from the month of October 2020.
Nigeria reported that JUSUN, on April 6, in efforts to ensure it strike action was effective, shut down all courts across the country by mounting guard at the entrance of the courts to ensure that no one entered the court premises.
The action has crippled court proceedings as well as commercial activities around the court premises.
It would be recalled that a Federal High Court, which sat in Abuja had in January 2014, held that the financial autonomy for the judiciary was a constitutional provision that must be complied with by the executive branch of government.
Also, President Muhammadu Buhari, on May 23 2020, signed into law an Executive Order to grant financial autonomy to the legislature and the judiciary across the 36 states of the federation.
The order mandated the Accountant-General of the Federation to deduct from source amount due to state legislatures and judiciaries from the monthly allocation to each state for states that refuse to grant such autonomy.
Also, the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, made the Executive Order No. 10 of 2020 mandatory, stating that all states of the federation should include the allocations of both the legislature and the judiciary in the first-line charge of their budgets.
Meanwhile, the state governors through the platform of Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) on Thursday, pledged to implement the financial autonomy for the judiciary by May ending at the latest and called on the striking members of the JUSUN to call off their two weeks old strike.
The chairman of the NGF and the Governor of Ekiti State, Kayode Fayemi, gave the assurance while speaking with journalists after meeting with stakeholders from the state judiciary and legislature at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
He said the modalities for the implementation were worked out at the meeting held at the Presidential Villa.
According to him, the meeting, chaired by the Chief of Staff to President Buhari, Ibrahim Gambari was attended by the Solicitor-General of the Federation, the representatives of the judiciary, the representatives of the Conference of Speakers, and House of Representatives.
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