By Yussuf Alli
The All Progressives Congress (APC) Screening Panel which screened the governorship aspirants on the platform of the party in Edo State has premised its disqualification of Governor Godwin Obaseki on six grounds, The Nation gathered on Friday night.
The decision may have drawn the curtain on the governor’s aspiration on the platform of the party even as Obaseki himself vowed moments after the announcement of his disqualification that he would not appeal the panel’s decision. The grounds for disqualification, as sighted from the committee’s report by The Nation last night, are:
- claiming to have a Higher School Leaving Certificate which is unknown to the Nigerian educational system;
- allegedly being in possession of an affidavit disowned by the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory;
- error in the National Youth Service Corps discharge certificate which bears Obasek as against Obaseki;
- loss of primary, secondary and the Higher School Leaving Certificates;
- alleged violation of Article 21 D (V) of the party’s constitution, which forbids members from taking the party to court;
- legal precedents occasioned by the judgments of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court on discrepancies in names.
There were speculations last night that Obaseki was heading to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which said that its doors were wide open for Obaseki should he decide to come on board.
The Obaseki faction of the APC is scheduled to meet later today in Benin to decide on its next line of action. Obaseki, who appeared to have foreknowledge of his fate, dismissed the decision of the screening committee as unjust and ruled out an appeal.
He did not spare the party’s national chair, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who he said was making mockery of the democratic process in the way he is “administering and superintending over our great party.”
Obaseki has been locked in a fierce showdown with Oshiomhole for about two years now.
Two others aspirants- Chris Ogiemwonyi, a former minister of state for works, and Mathew Iduoriyekenwen, a former majority leader of the Edo State House of Assembly, were also disqualified by the panel.
It, however, cleared Pastor Osagie Ize-Iyamu; Dr. Pius Odubu, a former deputy governor of the state and Hon. Osaro Obazee, a former Local Government Chairman in the state, to contest the APC primary on June 22.
The party’s Appeal Committee was awaiting the application of Obaseki last night.
The Screening Committee, headed by Prof. Jonathan Mamu Ayuba, decided to disqualify Obaseki following a petition by Chisimdi M. Chima of Shores and Savanna International Law Firm.
Other members of the committee are Senator Aishatu Dahiru Ahmed; Dr. Jane-Frances Agbu; Hon. Fort Dike; Prof. Agbo Madaki; Hon. Ibrahim Zailani and Dr. Rabe Nasir.
Sources said the committee considered only Chima’s petition to avoid being dragged into politics.
Other petitions, including those connected with alleged irregularity on possession of voter cards, were stepped down by the committee for the court to decide.
It was gathered that while other aspirants spent between five and ten minutes being screened, Obaseki had more than one hour interaction with the team.
Investigation revealed that some of the grounds for the disqualification were raised in 2016 by the PDP, but because of non-compliance with the time limit allowed by the Election Petitions Tribunal, the opposition could not pursue its case.
The APC screening committee, sources said, grilled Obaseki on the alleged discrepancies in his educational certificates and came to the conclusion that there was no legal basis for clearing him, and that the party would be taking a risk similar to the Bayelsa State episode if it did.
The committee in its report said that though Obaseki claimed to have a Primary School Leaving Certificate obtained in 1968, no copy of the said certificate was presented.
It added: “Evidence of General Certificate of Education (GCE) O-Level in the name of Obaseki Godwin, dated June 1973 (Eghosa Anglican Grammar School, Benin City, 1969-1973) with only three credits presented.
“The aspirant claims to have a Higher School Leaving Certificate obtained in 1976. We state that there is no such certificate as Higher School Leaving Certificate known to the Nigerian educational system. Even then, no such certificate was presented.
“University of Ibadan, 1976-1979. Evidence of Bachelor of Arts Degree in the name of Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki presented.
“NYSC Certificate of National Service in the name of Obasek Godwin Nogheghase, dated 1980 presented.
“Additional qualification. Evidence of Masters of Business Administration from Pace University, New York, in the name of Godwin N. Obaseki dated 1994.
“In the course of His Excellency, Godwin Obaseki’s appearance before the Screening Committee, he informed the committee that he filed a legal action against the National Chairman of APC, the party and Sen. Lawal Shuaibu.
“Meanwhile, in the course of our screening, the National Chairman and the party were served with the copies of the said originating summons registered as Suit Number FCT/HC/CV/1748/ 2020.
“The aspirant, His Excellency, Godwin Obaseki on the 7th day of June, 2016 purportedly deposed to a sworn affidavit of loss of original primary, secondary, university and National Youth Corps certificates before the Registrar of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja Division. However upon an application to the Chief Registrar of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja Division by Chief Ferdinand Orbih, SAN dated September 2016, in reply thereto, the Chief Registrar denied that the said Affidavit emanated from the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja Division.
“Though His Excellency, Godwin Obaseki in his nomination form claimed to have obtained a Higher School Leaving Certificate from the Institute of Continuing Education, Benin City, it was observed however that no educational certificate such as Higher School Leaving Certificate is known to the Nigerian Educational System.
“Even the said Higher School Leaving Certificate was never presented. In the course of screening exercise, the aspirant admitted that he has never collected it.
“The attestation from the Institute of Continuing Education, Benin City from where the alleged Higher School Leaving Certificate, which indicated no period of attendance was obtained, is of no consequence as it only attests that Godwin Obaseki was a student of the Institute.
“Although the committee received a petition on his University of Ibadan Bachelor of Arts in Classical Studies certificate which he submitted to INEC in 2016 when he first contested as governor, the committee on further probing was presented with the original certificate issued by the University of Ibadan and the original was sighted.
“On the NYSC Certificate of National Youth Service, dated 6th August 1980, issued to the aspirant, the committee observed that it bears the name Obasek Godwin Nogheghase.
“While this may be an error on the part of the issuing authority, we observed however that the aspirant has not taken any step whatsoever to have the anomaly corrected by the issuing authority.
“In line with the decided cases of ANGOS DIDI v. SELEKETIMIBI (2009), LPELR-4038(CA) and SC/1/2020 PDP and 2 OTHERS v. BIOBARKUMA DEGI-EREMIENYO and 2 OTHERS (delivered on 13/2/2020), we find it difficult to vouch for the authenticity and acceptability of the NYSC Certificate of National Service presented by His Excellency, Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki.
“In view of the interaction with His Excellency on the issues raised, which include the Higher School Leaving Certificate, the defective NYSC certificate of National Service and the act of the aspirant taking the party to court in violation of Article 21 D(V) of the party’s constitution, the eligibility of this aspirant is doubtful.
“Pursuant to the above, the committee therefore recommends that His Excellency, Godwin Obaseki, is not eligible to participate in the 2020 APC Edo Governorship Primary Election.”
The committee was inaugurated on June 9, 2020 pursuant to the “powers conferred on the National Executive Committee (NEC) by Article 18(11) ( c) 0f the constitution of the All Progressives Congress (APC) as amended and also paragraph 11 of the Guidelines for the nomination of candidates for the 2020 Governorship Election in Edo State.”
The committee’s mandate was as follows:
- To carry out a comprehensive, due diligence of all documents, materials and statements submitted to the party by the aspirants
- To carry out verification of all certificates, documents, claims and other supporting materials submitted by all aspirants (in support of their qualification for meeting the constitutional requirement, Electoral Act, the party constitution and further guidelines issued by the party in conformity with eligibility provisions).
- To ensure aspirants comply with all stipulated requirements.
- To make any other recommendation(s) relevant to the above mandate of the committee.
A few minutes after the panel submitted its report, Governor Godwin Obaseki vowed that he would not appeal his “unjust disqualification by the Governorship Primary Screening Committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC).”
The panel’s action, according to him, is ”a mockery of the democratic process.”
The governor, in a statement in Benin through his Special Adviser on Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, said: “We have watched the mockery of democratic process, which Comrade Adams Oshiomhole is administering and superintending over in our great party, the All Progressives Congress (APC). It has been an unfortunate, disheartening and dreadful spectacle.
“We had initially asserted that going by the open display and enthronement of illegality by one man in the party that comprises several organs and eminent personalities, there is no way that Governor Godwin Obaseki would get a fair assessment in the run up to the nomination of candidates to fly the flag of the party in the forthcoming Edo gubernatorial election.”
He added: “It is unfortunate that this open show of shame, illegality and travesty of justice is the brand of democracy which Comrade Oshiomhole has reduced the APC into. The situation is quite saddening because this is a party supposedly reputed for change, equity and social justice.
“We have therefore decided that it would be effort in futility to appeal whatever the unjust outcome of the evaluation and screening process of the APC will be, especially when Comrade Oshiomhole has declared that he is the Supreme Court and ultimate determiner of the fate and future of our great party.
“We wish Oshiomhole luck in his maladministration of the party and trust that the Almighty will help our country to find the path to true liberty, freedom and justice.
“We call on all party members and the teeming supporters of Governor Obaseki to remain calm and await further directives.”
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