The Election Petitions Tribunal in Edo State has received three petitions arising from the September 19 governorship election in the state, according to findings by PREMIUM TIMES on Friday.
Entries from political parties and their candidates will close on Saturday (October 10), while respondents have 21 days, from the dates of filing the petitions, to respond to the petitions/allegations levelled at them, after which the inaugural sitting will be held.
The secretary of the Election Petitions Tribunal in Edo State, Sunday Martins, confirmed receiving three petitions from the Action Peoples Party (APP), the governorship candidate of the Action Alliance, (AA) Frank Onaivi, and his party, and candidate of the Action Democratic Party (ADP), Emmanuel Iboi, and his party.
The APP, in the petition against the winner of the election, Godwin Obaseki, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC) who are respondents in the suit, claimed that it was unlawfully excluded.
Also, the governorship candidate of AA, Mr Onaivi, claimed in his petition against Obaseki, PDP, and INEC (respondents), that he was excluded unlawfully, despite being the validly-nominated candidate of the party, in line with the Electoral Act.
Both petitioners are praying the tribunal to nullify the September 19 governorship election in Edo where Mr Obaseki was declared the winner by INEC with a fresh election to be ordered within 90 days, while the validly-nominated candidate ((Onaivi of AA) and APP should be included in the new ballot papers.
However, Mr Iboi, and his party, ADP, in their petition before the Election Petitions Tribunal, are challenging the re-election of Mr Obaseki on many grounds, part of which borders on the eligibility of the governor-elect to contest the poll in the first instance because of the irregularities in his candidacy, regarding his certificate and the fact that he participated in both the APC and PDP primaries.
The petitioners, who joined INEC, the PDP, Mr Obaseki, the APC, and Osagie Ize-Iyamu as 1st to 5th respondents in that order, averred that the university degree certificate submitted by the 3rd respondent, Godwin Noghehase Obaseki, issued by the University of Ibadan, UI, was defective.
They claimed that in an affidavit deposed to and presented to INEC in his Form CF001 in 2016, “Mr Obaseki submitted a certificate purported to have been signed by the Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar of the University. In the Form EC9 submitted to INEC in 2020, Mr Obaseki attached an un-dated certificate with only one signatory purporting to be the signature of the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan.
“As part of the irregularities in the said UI certificate, the petitioners also alleged that the signature of the Vice-Chancellor who signed the degree certificate being presented by Godwin Obaseki died in 2015 after retirement for a long time and couldn’t have signed a re-issued certificate in 2020.
“The petitioners will rely on oral and documentary evidence to show that Professor Tekena Tamuno who was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ibadan from December 1975 to November 1979 had not only died in 2015 but could not also have signed a document purporting to be a document of the University of Ibadan after his retirement and death.”
The ADP candidate also said that the 3rd respondent was not qualified to contest the governorship election held on September 20th and the votes credited to him were null and void and of no effect and value.
In their prayers, the petitioners prayed for “declaration that the 3rd respondent (Obaseki) presented a forged and /or a false certificate to INEC in violation of section 182(1) [I] of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).”
A further prayer was for “a declaration that the 3rd respondent was at the time the election which held on 19/9/2020, not qualified to contest the election for having submitted a false/forged document or certificate to the 3rd respondent, (INEC) along with his Form EC9.”
They further sought orders such as “an order disqualifying the 3rd respondent as a contestant in the said Edo State Governorship Election which held on 19/9/2020. An order nullifying the governorship election which held on 19/9/2020 because the 1st respondent returned the 3rd respondent who was not qualified to contest the election as the winner of the election,” they further prayed.
They also asked the tribunal to issue “an order so disqualifying the 3rd respondent and nullifying the votes cast for him in the Governorship election held in Edo State on 19/9/2020 and ordering the 1st respondent to conduct a fresh election between all other qualified candidates excluding the 2nd and 3rd Respondents.”
PREMIUM TIMES reported Mr Iboi to have said on September 21, two days after the election, that he would not challenge the victory of Mr Obaseki as governor-elect.
The 36-year-old ADP governorship candidate, who was the youngest of the 14 candidates that participated in the election, said he has accepted the outcome of the exercise because he believes that the people of Edo have made their choice.