By Ikechukwu Nnochiri – Abuja
The Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, adjourned further hearing on the certificate forgery case the All Progressives Congress, APC, filed against Governor Godwin Obaseki, sine-die (indefinitely).
The adjournment followed an appeal marked CA/ABJ/CV/1072/2020, which governor Obaseki lodged before the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal.
Obaseki had gone to the appellate court to challenge refusal of the trial court to expunge some paragraphs in APC’s reply to a counter-affidavit affidavit he filed in opposition to the pre-election suit against him.
He, therefore, prayed the court through his team of lawyers led by Mr Ken Mozia SAN, to stay further proceedings in the substantive suit, pending the determination of the appeal.
Though the APC and its chieftain in Edo state, Mr Edobor Williams who is the 2nd Plaintiff in the matter, opposed Obaseki’s request, however, trial Justice Ahmed Mohammed, in a ruling on Tuesday, said he was minded to adjourn the case sine-die.
Justice Mohammed held that going by judicial hierarchy, the high court ought to “tarry awhile”, having been notified of the pendency of the appeal.
Noting that the record of appeal had already been transmitted and served on all the parties, Justice Mohammed said the high court was not ready to embark on a collision course with the appellate court.
“Where a lower court us aware of the existence of application for stay, it will be wrong to the trial court to proceed to hear the suit the application is seeking to stay proceedings on.
“This court must defer to the court of appeal. This court will not embark on a collision course with the Court of Appeal.
“This court will abide by whatever further direction the Court of Appeal may give.
“This suit is hereby adjourned sine-die to await the Court of Appeal’s decision on the 1st Defendant’s application for stay of further proceedings”, Justice Mohammed held.
The Plaintiffs had through their lawyer, Chief Akin Olujimi, SAN, decried that their pre-election suit against Obaseki has a lifespan of 180days that will expire by early January 2021.
Relying on section 285(8) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, the Plaintiffs pleaded the court not to allow Obaseki’s interlocutory appeal to truncate the hearing of the certificate forgery suit against him.
The APC and Williams had in the suit marked FHC/B/CS/74/2020, alleged that Obaseki lied about his academic qualifications.
The Plaintiffs accused the governor of forging the university certificate he presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, in aid of his qualification for the governorship election that held in Edo State on September 19.
They equally told the court that there were discrepancies in the subjects that Obaseki claimed he passed in his West African Examination Council (WAEC) exam and subjects in his testimonial.
Consequently, they are praying the court to declare that Obaseki’s claim in his INEC form EC9 at column C, sworn to on June 29, 2020, at the Federal Capital Territory High Court Registry to the effect that he obtained from the University of Ibadan in 1979, a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Classical Studies is false and contrary to Section 31 (5) and (6) of the Electoral Act, 2010.
They also want the court to declare that Obaseki lied on oath when he swore to an affidavit on June 29, 2020 that he worked in Afrinvest Limited from 1994 to 2014 when he retired.