The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has stated that it has no powers to investigate and disqualify Edo State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki, over the certificate he (Obaseki) presented to it for the governorship election, pointing out that only “an order of court” could do so.
The electoral umpire added that it could not investigate the originality and authenticity or otherwise of the disputed certificate/document which Governor Godwin Obaseki presented because it was beyond its responsibility.
This was contained in the Commission’s reply as the 1st respondent in the petition filed by Action Democratic Party (ADP), challenging Obasseki’s election at the Edo State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Benin City.
In a certified true copy of the reply, INEC stated that “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”.
Recall that the PDP had admitted that there were noticeable errors in Obaseki’s certificate but explained that it was while filling the forms for the election in 2016 that Obaseki inadvertently and mistakenly wrote 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.
“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 had stated in its reply to the ADP petition.
It, however, blamed the error in Obaseki’s certificate on the mechanism of 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.”