The Human and Environmental Development Agenda Resource Centre (HEDA), a non-governmental organization and non-partisan human rights and development league, has asked the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) to investigate and prosecute Mr. Osanebi Friday, the member of the Delta State House of Assembly representing Ndokwa East constituency over allegations he forged his National Examination Council (NECO) certificate.
In a petition forwarded to the ICPC and signed by HEDA' s chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju, the resource centre said its requested action is pertinent, to serve as deterrent to future lawbreakers, especially amongst the elites and supposed leaders who ought to lead by example.
HEDA said it took its cue for the investigation of the ex-lawmaker, who is a former Deputy Speaker of the assembly, from an exclusive report in the publication of Sahara Reporters, an online Newspaper, dated the 24th day of December, 2018, where it was reported that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had withdrawn the Certificate of Return issued to Osanebi, and re-issued it to Ozegbe Emeka, who was validly nominated as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2015 elections.
The petition reads: "It was reported that in April 2018, a Delta State High Court, presided over by Honourable Justice V.I. Ofezi declared that Mr. Osanebi Friday lied on oath by submitting a forged NECO certificate and ordered the immediate swearing in of Mr. Ozegbe Emeka into the Delta State House of Assembly.
"The report under reference stated that Mr. Osanebi Friday appealed against the judgement of the Delta State High Court to the Court of Appeal, Benin Judicial Division and the Court of Appeal ruled in upheld the decision of the High Court Judge, in favour of the respondent. It is further stated that he appealed to the Supreme court and the appeal before the apex court is yet to be heard."
Quoting a section of the nation's ground norm, HEDA said: "It is pertinent to state at this juncture that Section 106 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As amended) provides for the requisite conditions to qualify an individual to be elected as a member of a State House of Assembly. Specifically, Section 106 (c) states that 'he has been educated up to at least the School Certificate level or its equivalent'...
"It was presumed that all the qualifications in Section 106 (a-d) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 was duly complied with, which was why he was successful elected in as honourable member of the Delta State House of Assembly. And it was believed that Mr. Osanebi Friday was not in breach of the provisions of Section 107 (1)(a-I) specifically, Section 107(1)(I).
"Section 107(1)(I) states that 'no person shall be qualified for election to a House of Assembly if he has presented a forged certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission'. Mr. Osanebi Friday was elected during the 2015 general election to the Delta State House of Assembly as an honourable member based on the information he presented to the INEC, and INEC believing same to be true.
"And as reported under reference, Mr. Osanebi Friday did present his NECO Certificate but same is alleged to be fake and it is also alleged that no such certificate was found in the Secondary School he claimed to have attended, Orogu Grammar School, Orogu, Ughelli North local government area.
"The law is not silent on the offences alleged; forgery and perjury are encapsulated in the Criminal Code Act Cap C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004. The Criminal Code Act Cap C28 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004 in Sections 463-466 defines the forgery as an offence while Section 467 prescribes the sentence of three years imprisonment; Section 117 of the same law defines the offence of Perjury and Section 118 prescribes the punishment to be 14 years imprisonment.
"We are an organization desirous to see transparency, accountability and good governance in our nation. We are therefore keen on seeing the law not only obeyed to the letter but also diligently enforced in the case of breach, which is why we believe critically that an immediate investigation should be carried out in this particular case. The case is said to have moved from the High Court to the Supreme Court hence, a public record which can be searched and obtained to aid investigation.
"Your Commission is empowered to investigate and prosecute suspects for alleged offences within the purview of the law. Based on the foregoing, we request that you use your good offices to investigate Mr. Osanebi Friday for corruptly manipulating the system through forgery, perjury with the view to prosecuting the stated offences and recover all monies and benefits received by him as a honourable member and Deputy Speaker of the Delta State House of Assembly. We therefore demand that the law takes its full course.
"The requested action is pertinent to serve as deterrent to future law breakers, especially amongst the elites and supposed leaders who ought to lead by example. This is with a view to stemming the menace that rapidly ravaging our political landscape and society."