The University of Ibadan, on Tuesday, confirmed to the Federal High Court in Abuja that it issued a Bachelor of Arts certificate to Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State in 1979, but that the photocopy he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, was incomplete.
The University, which was summoned through a subpoena issued on it by the court, said it was not true that Obaseki forged the certificate he attached to Form EC9 (Nomination Form) he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for the purpose of the gubernatorial election that held in Edo State on September 19, 2020.
The institution, which appeared as the second witness on the day Obaseki opened his defence to the certificate forgery suit the All Progressives Congress, APC, instituted against him, was represented by its Deputy Registrar Legal, Mr. Abayomi Ajayi.
Ajayi said he was in court on the strength of the subpoena that was served on the Registrar of the University. The subpoena was admitted in evidence and marked as Exhibit D6.
Asked under cross-examination to confirm that the copy Obaseki attached to the nomination form he submitted to INEC was forged, the witness said: “I will not regard it as forged, but I will regard it as an incomplete photocopy.”
Continuing, he said: “This is because the certificate issued by the University is larger than the paper size on which the photocopy was done. In the process, the date of issue and signature of the Registrar, S. J. Okudu was cut off, likewise the signature of the then Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tekena Tamuno.”
The witness further told the court that the Minister of State for Education had earlier forwarded Obaseki’s certificate to the school for verification.
He said demonstrations the school carried out revealed that some part of the certificate was cut off, owing to the size of paper that was used.
He went ahead and tendered three different versions of a Bachelor of Arts degree belonging to another student, which the school photocopied in A3, A4 and A5 papers, to buttress the point.
Though counsel to the plaintiffs, Chief Akin Olujimi(SAN), opposed the admissibility of the photocopied certificates on the premise that they were neither pleaded nor front-loaded by Obaseki, the court went ahead and admitted them in evidence as Exhibits D13, D14 and D15.
The court held that reliance on the exhibits in its judgement would be subject to objection the plaintiffs would raise in their final written address.
The DW-2 told the court that he was employed by the University of Ibadan on May 2, 1995: “I was not at the University when Obaseki was a student. I only saw the records.”
Obaseki earlier told the court that he would call five witnesses to defend the case against him. He had through his first witness, DW-1, Mr. Charity Aguobawekhina, a legal practitioner, tendered original copies of his certificates before the court.
The school certificate that was issued to him in June 1973 by the West African Examination Council, WAEC, as well as a Higher School Certificate which WAEC also issued to him in 1976, were both admitted and marked as Exhibits D1 and D2.
The original copy of Obaseki’s Primary School Certificate issued in July 1971, was admitted as Exhibit D3, even though the plaintiffs objected to its admissibility on the ground that it was not previously front-loaded.
Likewise, the court admitted original copies of Bachelors of Art certificate that was issued to Obaseki by the University of Ibadan in 1979 and marked it as Exhibit D4, as well as Masters of Business Administration Certificate that was issued to him in September 1994 by Pace University, which was marked as Exhibit D5.
However, the plaintiffs challenged the admissibility of Obaseki’s Bachelor of Art Certificate.
“My Lord, we are objecting to the original copy of the University of Ibadan degree certificate. It was not frontloaded. We reserve our full argument on the objection until our final address.
“To be fair to the first defendant, we will not be objecting to the admissibility of the Pace University certificate”, Olujimi submitted.
The DW-1 further confirmed that Exhibit PL-10 that is already before the court, was the Certified True Copy, CTC, of the Form EC9 (Nomination Form) that Obaseki submitted to INEC.
He told the court that also attached to the Form was a letter from the National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, Obaseki’s NYSC certificate and his testimonial.
The witness, who identified himself as the current Chairman of the Edo State Law Reform Commission, told the court that a previous certificate forgery suit marked FHC/B/CS/125/2016, which was instituted against Obaseki, was struck out by a Federal High Court in Benin.
Under cross-examination, Mr. Aguobawekhina told the court that he was the one that photocopied Obaseki’s certificate that was attached to the nomination form that was submitted to INEC.
He told the court that the photocopy was made from Obaseki’s original certificate.
Asked why the signature of the Registrar of the University of Ibadan and the date the certificate was issued did not reflect in the photocopy, the witness said: “It is true my lord that part of Exhibit D4 was not captured by the photocopier, ostensibly because the size of the original certificate is bigger than the A4 paper that was used.
“It was not only the date and signature of the Registrar that were cut off, but even the signature of the Vice-Chancellor also was not fully reproduced in the photocopy that was attached to the Form EC9 as it was not fully captured by the photocopying machine.
“What was, however, captured by the photocopier was a direct reflection of the original copy of the certificate. It is not true that the photocopy of the University of Ibadan certificate of the first defendant attached to the Form EC9 was forged.
“I did not forge the photocopy of the 1st Defendant’s degree certificate.
“Apart from being a political associate of the first defendant, I double as his informal adviser on matters of this nature. So when he was going to Abuja to fill his Form EC9, I accompanied him.
“So, while he was filling the Nomination Form, he asked me to make photocopies of all the documents attached to the said form, including Exhibit D4.
“I made five copies each and attached one set of each to the form already filled by him. We then went to the FCT High Court Abuja where the first defendant deposed to an oath before the Commissioner of oath.
“We then came back to the PDP Secretariat where the documents were submitted to the National Secretary of the party, who uploaded them to INEC server by scanning. I was there.
“I did not know that the photocopy did not reflect all the parts of the certificate until it became an issue”, the witness stated, adding that Obaseki’s nomination form was uploaded into INEC’s portal on June 29, 2020.
Justice Ahmed Mohammed adjourned the case till Wednesday for the continuation of the hearing.
Gunmen Kill Five Police Officers, Two Civilians In Rivers
Gunmen have killed at least five policemen and two civilians in Rivers State.
The attack which occurred on Friday night was launched at a police station in Rumuji community, Emohua LGA, and a police checkpoint, known as C4i at the entrance of Emohua from Port Harcourt.
Emohua is a Local Government Area along the East-West road, connecting Rivers and Bayelsa state.
During the attack security vehicles were also burnt.
In another attack, a police station in Elimgbu in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area was attacked and three police officers were said to be beheaded.
One of the officers who was beheaded had his head taken away by the gunmen.
Although the Police are yet to confirm the attacks, a youth leader in the Local Government Area, residents of the communities confirmed the incidents to Channels Television.
This attack comes less than one month after gunmen killed three customs officers, five soldiers, and some police officers at different security formations in Ikwerre and Abua/Odual Local Government Areas.
The attacks in April prompted Governor Nyesom wike to impose a nighttime curfew at various entry and exit points of Rivers State between 8 pm and 6 am, and restriction of movement within the state from 10 pm to 6 am.
We Didn’t Bathe for 56 Days in Kidnappers’ Den –Freed Afaka Students
It was jubilation galore as 27 kidnapped students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Kaduna were reunited with their families after 56 days in captivity.
Tears of joy flowed freely from both parents and their children. At about 3pm, the entire premises of the college, located along the Kaduna International Airport, opposite the Nigerian Defence Academy, erupted in jubilation as the students were being escorted by heavily-armed policemen in company with the state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, and the state Commissioner of Police, Umar Muri.
Narrating their ordeal in the kidnappers’ den, one of the freed students, Zakariya Magaji, described the kidnappers’ den as hell, saying he would never wish the experience for his enemies.
“The bandits need prayers. All that we have to do is to pray for them for God to touch their hearts. As for me, I have forgiven them for whatever we went through in their hands. The experience was hell.”
A female student, Sarah Sunday, said she and her colleagues were subjected to all sorts of dehumanising conditions, including not being allowed to take a bath while in the bandits’ den.
Sunday said, “A lot of things happened while we were there. We were subjected to hunger. We were subjected to trekking and all sorts of dehumanising experiences. We were insulted but thankfully, they did not molest or kill any of us. They only beat us on the first day when they did a video of us.”
Asked if they were fed at all, Sunday said, “The boys used to go and fetch water for us to cook. We cooked tuwo with miyan kuka, and tuwo with dry okra. We only cooked rice once, and we cooked spaghetti once too.”
When asked whether the abductors used to leave them to go out for other operations, Sarah said, “Yes, they used to go out, but they always left some of their armed members to stay with us.
“Even our male colleagues who used to go and fetch water were always escorted to the stream by gang members bearing AK-47 rifles.
“Our living condition in the jungle was very bad. We never had a bath. We were exposed to the rain. Athough there was a hut that we always ran to hide whenever it was raining, still there was no escaping the rain because the hut was poorly built. But we have forgiven our kidnappers. And we pray that God will give them the chance to change for the better.”
‘Bandits said our abduction was to get govt’s attention
Also speaking, a freed student, Pamela Ibrahim, said the bandits said their grouse was with the government and vowed to unleash hell on Kaduna State.
Ibrahim said, “Before they released us, the kidnappers told us that they didn’t have anything against us (students). They said they kidnapped us because they needed the government to settle things with them and that they also wanted to be educated like other Nigerians. They need work and houses too.
“They said if the government doesn’t settle with them, they would continue to make sure that Kaduna State is unsafe. They said they meant it. Some of them are Nigerians, others are foreigners. They spoke mainly Fulani (language) and Hausa.
“There was an old man among them who prevented others from harassing us and anytime he was not around, we were beaten and insulted.”
In a jubilant mood, one of the parents, Ibrahim Hassan, said he was glad that his daughter was freed few days to her elder sister’s wedding.
Hassan said, “I was confused; my life was miserable throughout the time my daughter was with the kidnappers. I only depended on God.
“When I heard that some of the students of Greenfield University were killed, I became sad thinking that I would never see my daughter again but when I learnt they had been released, my joy knew no bounds, especially as her elder sister’s wedding comes up in Zaria tomorrow (Saturday). It is double joy for me.”
Another parent, Mr Friday Sanni, said before he could allow his two daughters – Victory and Rejoice – to return to the college, he must be assured of adequate security in the school.
Sanni said, “The truth remains that if my children must come back here, I must be sure that there is a serious security structure on the ground, that this kind of incident will not happen again.
“If in few months’ time nothing serious is on the ground, I will move my children out, because they are too dear to me.
“The first one will be 20 years old by September while the second one will be 18 by November. They are too dear to me to lose and I will not want this kind of experience again. I have never experienced this kind of situation before in my life.”
Speaking, the state Commissioner of Police, Umar Muri, said the freed students had undergone medical tests and were fit to be reunited with their parents.
“As we speak, the victims are all clinically stable,” he said.
He urged the students not to allow their ordeal to discourage them from pursuing their education.
Speaking on the process leading to their release, Muri said, “The federal and the state governments as well as the acting Inspector-General of Police, the state police command, the military and other sister security agencies adopted the best modus operandi at our disposal and 10 of the students were first released on April 5 and 8 in two batches.
“With this sustained effort, the remaining 27 kidnapped students were subsequently released to the command on May 5, at about 4.10pm without any casualty.”
The police commissioner said concerted efforts were being made to also secure the release of the abducted students of Greenfield University, who had been in captivity since April 20.
The Provost of the college, Dr Muhammad Bello, who received the students, appreciated all those involved in the process to get the students released.
“You should not be discouraged from pursuing your dreams,” Bello told the students.
Food Security: AFAN Set to Commence Court Action Against Agric Minister
The All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) has initiated legal proceedings against the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono over his stance to destabilise the body’s internal democracy structure and impede farmers efforts at working harmoniously with the federal government in attaining food security.
In a release signed by the Assistant Publicity Secretary of the umbrella body of farmers in the country, Salisu Mukhtar, the body noted that the undue interference of the minister, rooted in vendetta by insistently recognising an illegal faction, was at cross-purposes with its constitution and counter-intuitive to the rule of law.
“Upon the appointment of Alhaji Mohammed Sabo Nanono as HMA, who was once removed as acting Chairman of AFAN Kano State chapter in 2007 for misappropriating fertilizer, the undue interference in AFAN activities began.”
According to the body, AFAN being an NGO is not a department in FMARD and cannot be controlled or destroyed by any individual no matter how highly placed.
“Actions of the HMA which have become a mockery of the law include recognising an unconstitutional and illegitimate leadership faction of the association by playing host to them in his office on several occasions and accepting invitations by them in the full glare of the public, in spite of knowledge of the pending court case.
“This polarising act by a minister representing a constitutionally recognised administration of President Buhari, is undoubtedly antithetical to the rule of law and democratic norms, which are the bedrock of the administration he is serving under,” Murktar said.
The association is asking that the matter which is in Court 9 of the Federal High Court (FHC) before Justice Taiwo Taiwo should be allowed to be resolved, especially by the Plaintiffs who filed the suit in the first place.
“The minister’s actions are directly inimical to the economic progress of the sector which is also hinged on the leadership stability of the private sector stakeholders which AFAN represents.
“Farmers as an extension of the national polity, who participated in and voted overwhelmingly for this administration, are irked by the actions of the minister, which is inadvertently truncating the association’s efforts at enjoying internal democracy nationwide.
“To act in any way by the minister, the Plaintiffs’ lawyer or the Plaintiffs themselves, before the determination of the suit is lawless and adjudged a contempt of court.
“Justice must be allowed to take its course if AFAN is to continue to exist as the apex body of all farmer-associations by whatever name called in Nigeria,” Murktar said.
The body stated that AFAN was registered in 2005 by the CAC with reg: 18160 and three registered Trustees namely Murtala Nyako, Dr Shettima Mustafa and Chief Femi Coker as the apex body of all farmer-associations by whatever name called in Nigeria.
Murktar explained that: “President Olusegun Obasanjo advised then that Murtala Nyako should head the management of AFAN as National President and the duo of Chief Femi Coker and Shettima Mustafa to be deputies 1 and 2 respectively pending general election.
“All other officers were appointed as interim management members in the same manner.
“AFAN elections did not hold until after Abdullahi Adamu former governor of Nasarawa State became the President.
“The elections from the Wards of 774 LGAs to the 36 states plus FCT took nearly two years to be concluded.
“The National Election was conducted in 2014 and the elected Executives duly inaugurated.
“From this point on AFAN began to be recognized as the umbrella of all farmer-associations in Nigeria guided by its constitution as an NGO.”
AFAN on the 6th of May, 2021, served the minister a pre-action notice through their attorney A.O Okeya and Associates for legal actions against his person, for unduly interfering and recognising the Mr Faruk Rabiu faction in the capacity of leaders of the association.
The pre-action notice accused Rabiu’s faction of circulating letters to AFAN state chairmen across the 36 states of the country including the Federal Capital Territory, under the directive of the minister asking them to purchase inputs supplied by the ministry through them at exorbitant prices.
According to the association’s attorney: “We were informed that on the 26th of April, 2021, the said Faruk Mudi through his Counsel M.M Bakari Esq, wrote a letter to your office intimating you about an election conducted by them, which you directed the Permanent Secretary of your ministry to advise all agencies to recognise this illegal faction, knowing fully well that there is a pending matter at the Federal High Court 9 Abuja.”
“From the above, we demand that you desist from dealing, transacting, aiding and encouraging Faruk Mudi & Co to stop using your office to perpetrate injustice, as the leadership tussle is before a court of competent jurisdiction.
“Take notice therefore that this is a pre-action notice, as we shall seek redress in the law court and demand for damages against your person for aiding Faruk Mudi & Co to defraud AFAN members. You are warned.”
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