UMO ENO
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By Osondu Ahirika

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A new twist has been introduced to the desperate schemes to yank Pastor Umo Eno off as the Standard Bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP for the Akwa Ibom State 2023 Governorship race.

A court case filed by Mr. Akan Okon, one of the aspirants for the coveted seat is now trending on the new media.

He purports that the General Certificate Examination certificate filed by the PDP candidate is forged.

Another petition further alleges that there is a discrepancy in date of birth as documented by the candidate.

As expected the conference of those embittered by the emergence of Umo Eno has found this as a morale booster.

We may well pity and tolerate their excitement.

The last kicks of a dying horse sometimes give a false sense of hope that it may survive to live.

Whereas Mr. Akan Okon is within his rights to file the case suspecting forgery of certificate by Umo Eno, the burden of proof is his too.

I read through the petition and all I could deduce is a wave of mere suspicion.

Governor Godwin Obaseki faced the same trajectory in his bumpy ride to lead Edo State.

The APC and its co-appellant, Williams Edobor, had commenced a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja before the September 2020 governorship election in Edo State against Obaseki. They accused him of certificate forgery.

Delivering his judgment on January 9, 2021, the trial judge, Ahmed Mohammed held that the plaintiffs failed to discharge the burden of proof regarding their forgery allegation.

The APC and her co-plaintiff, however, went on an appeal against the verdict.

Again, a panel of the Court of Appeal in Abuja led by Stephen Adah also unanimously dismissed the appellants’ appeal on March 18, 2021, and affirmed the Federal High Court’s verdict.

Still not satisfied, the appellants further appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court on Friday, May 28, 2021, finally dismissed the certificate forgery suit filed against Obaseki.

The five-member panel of the apex court held that the appellants did not provide any evidence to show that the University of Ibadan and the issuing authorities of the other contested certificates tendered by Mr. Obaseki denied issuing the certificates.

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In the lead judgment delivered by a member of the panel, Emmanuel Agim, the apex court upheld the concurrent decisions of the two lower courts to the effect that the appellants did not meet sufficient requirements to prove their case.

The court awarded N1 million against the appellants – APC and Mr. Edobor.

I took the detour to cite this Obaseki case because I have observed the petition against Umo Eno is not dissimilar. At least, in the subsisting claims.

As far as I know, the West African Examination Council is very much here with us and not on Jupiter or planet Mars.

The appellant did not provide any evidence to show that the West African Examination Council – the issuing authorities of the contested certificate tendered by Umo Eno denied issuing the certificates.

So what is the sudden political erection all about? Any justifiable cause for the alarm?

Indeed it is true that any straw to clutch on revives faith in salvation for the drowning.

Let us follow this path to its unwinding and hear the opinion of the Court.

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