An official of the legal unit of the University of Ibadan, Abayomi Ajayi told a federal high court in Abuja that the institution issued a Bachelor of Arts certificate to Godwin Obaseki, governor of Edo state, in 1979.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) and one Williams Edobor, a chieftain of the party, had filed a suit against Obaseki, accusing him of forging the first degree certificate which he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to enable him contest the governorship election.
However, testifying as the second defence witness after being summoned through a subpoena, Ajayi confirmed that the governor was issued a certificate.
When asked under cross-examination by Razak Isenalumhe, counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), if the photocopy of the disputed certificate could be considered as forged, Ajayi said it wasn’t a fake document.
“I will not regard it as forged, but I will regard it as an incomplete photocopy. This is because the certificate issued by the university is larger than the paper size on which the photocopy was done,” he said.
“In the process, the date of issue and signature of the registrar, S.J. Okudu, were cut off. Likewise, the signature of the then vice-chancellor, professor Tekena Tamuno.”
To buttress his point, the witness told the court that the minister of state for education had, in November 2020, forwarded Obaseki’s certificate to the school for verification.
He noted that demonstrations carried out by the school revealed that some part of the certificate was cut off, owing to the size of paper that was used.
Ajayi then tendered three different copies of a degree certificate issued to another student, which the school photocopied in A3, A4 and A5 papers.
The university’s representative also tendered Obaseki’s application dated March 5, 1980, which was addressed to the registrar to collect his certificate.
He also tendered certified true copies (CTC) of the relevant pages of UI’s calendar for 1976, admission brochure for degrees and Obaseki’s application that led to his admission.
Testifying earlier as the first defence witness, Charity Aiguobarueghian, who identified himself as Obaseki’s advisor, admitted to making the disputed photocopy which was attached to the INEC form.
“I did not forge the photocopy of the first defendant’s degree certificate,” Aiguobarueghian said under cross-examination.
“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 for oaths.
“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.”