Tribunal dismisses forgery case against Kwara gov

•Upholds election result, says AbdulRazaq qualified to run

Kwara State Election Petition Tribunal has dismissed the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s petition seeking the nullification of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq’s election on the ground that he lacked the academic qualification to run.

The tribunal, on Friday, said that the PDP’s candidate, Razaq Atunwa, failed to prove the allegations, holding instead that “all evidences before us show that (AbdulRazaq) sat the exam and was, therefore, qualified to run for the office of Governor.

Chairman of the three-person panel, Justice Bassey Effiong, held in a unanimous judgment, saying that,
“From all the evidences before us, we hold that the petition lacks merit and is hereby dismissed”.

Effiong said the law is that where a petitioner makes the commission of a crime the kernel of their petition, then they must prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.

“Has the petitioner discharged the burden of proof expected of them? From the evidence in this case, the answer is a resounding no.

“We hold that all the evidences presented by the West African Examination Council (WAEC) — which the petitioners had relied upon and subpoenaed —were at variance with the pleadings of the petitioners”, he said.

He insisted that the petitioners failed to prove that the Governor forged a certificate or presented a forged certificate in support of his candidature as alleged in their petition.

The judge said WAEC confirmed to the tribunal that AbdulRazaq’s certificate was “genuine and authentic”, adding that a classmate of the Governor also told the panel that the latter sat in front of him in the secondary school leaving certificate examination of June 1976.

Effiong said WAEC, which is the only statutory body to issue such a certificate, had made it clear that AbdulRazaq’s credential with all the relevant security details had emanated from it and that no other person can make a contrary claim.

In his reaction, Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq said the tribunal judgment dismissing the PDP’s certificate forgery allegations against him and upholding his election was a triumph of truth over falsehood and a sweet victory for Kwarans.

“This judgment affirms the truism that never will falsehood triumph over truth nor evil over good till the end of time — no matter the efforts or public grandstanding of the purveyors of such falsehood,” according to a statement by the governor’s spokesman, Rafiu Ajakaye.

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The statement said the judgment confirmed the party’s long-held position that the entire allegation was malicious and a tale by moonlight.

“For us, the judgment serves as a tonic to go the extra mile to build a polity where players will be motivated only by truth and the dream of serving our people and not by unbridled ambitions,” the statement said.

“We thank their Lordships for their erudition and well-considered judgment. We express our profound respect and gratitude to our legal team who meticulously and professionally handled the provocative issue with admirable comportment and superior knowledge of the law.

“While we were always confident of victory since we had nothing to hide, there were some Kwarans who felt concerned that some persons were bent on either causing confusion or going through the backdoor to get whatever Kwarans did not give them at the poll. It is to this end that we most sincerely thank Kwarans for their support and prayers while the case lasted. We also assure them that we will follow through on the steps being taken to build a Kwara that is prosperous and is the pride of all.”

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