By Esezobor Ohimai, Benin
A Chieftain of the Edo State All Progressives Congress (APC), Mr John Mayaki has accused Governor Godwin Obaseki of employing delaying tactics in the alleged certificate forgery and perjury trial case against him at the Federal High Court in Abuja, saying the Governor’s strategy was capable of arresting justice.
Obaseki had applied to the court to adjourn indefinitely, further proceedings in the matter on the grounds that he had filed an appeal at the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, challenging the refusal of Justice Ahmed Mohammad to expunge some paragraphs in the APC’s reply to his affidavit, “a move that was suggestive of a plot to arrest justice at the lower court being a time bound trial”, Mayaki said.
According to Mayaki, “Edo people are worried and we want to call on the Chief Justice of Nigeria to prevail on the matter in the interest of justice and allow for an unhindered hearing in the case especially when the delay tactics have no justifiable basis. The fear of Edo people is that of political interference which is capable of compromising the integrity of the prosecution”.
“Since the beginning of this case, Obaseki’s lawyers have flooded the court with series of motions and applications. They have asked for unnecessary adjournments. They have also challenged the ruling of the High Court at the Court of Appeal even before the hearing of the substantive suit with less than one month when the case would expire. All these point to the fact that they are employing delaying tactics to stall the proceedings, arrest hearing and justice or else, why is Governor Obaseki avoiding the hearing of this case if his facts are well established”.
Mayaki said when the APC fielded Obaseki in 2016 for governorship, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) challenged Obaseki in court seeking for his disqualification over his alleged certificate forgery but was frustrated and the case thrown out due to the expiration of time being a pre-election matter that was time bound. He said, “it is this same delay tactics of filing frivolous motions, applications and seeking unwarranted adjournments that Governor Obaseki has employed to delay justice”.
Mayaki who condemned this move said, “Obaseki can’t be trusted to proceed to allow the hearing of this case. We risk an indefinite delay in this case, if the trial judge rules for a stay of proceedings, it will defeat the cause of justice – this is the supreme irony of Obaseki’s application to the Court of Appeal. He must have his day in court where justice would be served”, he said.
The APC chieftain who was scathing in his criticism of Obaseki’s application to the appeal court said “the governor has no evidence that his appeal against the ruling of the lower court would be successful but intended to buy time, so as to impede the cause of hearing and subsequent justice.
“Obaseki has not demonstrated reasonable prospects and seriousness since the commencement of this trial and in the legally relevant sense, namely a sound and rational basis showing he has a realistic chance of meeting the very high standard for an application for an unwarranted stay of proceedings and this is even more so, when the substantive suit was yet to be heard and appeal isn’t trial related.
“I want to appreciate the trial judge for his constant reminder to the counsels that the case was time bound and must be heard. He has been very proactive in pushing for a quick and speedy proceeding but for Governor Godwin Obaseki and his lawyers who would capitalise on a ruling to stall the hearing of the substantive suit and complicate maters.
“The courts have greater ability to speed up proceedings and have an increased capacity to ‘control litigation’ and prevent parties from unnecessary delaying tactics to subvert the cause of justice and rule on evidence.
“I think its desperation strategy”, said Mayaki. “I think he doesn’t have a lot of options available to him by allowing the court hear the case. So, his lawyers are doing whatever they can to score a win. From their perspective, that’s the only strategy they have and the court must not fall for it”.
“I see this delaying strategy as ‘dartboard philosophy’, Mayaki said. “You throw as many darts at the dartboard as you possibly can, make as many motions and applications on everything that you can, in the hopes that one of them hits the bull’s eye, even when they’ve been failing in the past – this is a strategy for them because the evidence against the Governor is very strong. It’s pretty a strong case, not just in documents but also in witnesses”, he claimed.