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Bayelsa Certificate Scandal: Deputy Governor set to Testify at Tribunal

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Bayelsa
Bayelsa

Following the certificate scandal that is currently threatening the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Bayelsa State, the Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo has declared interest to testify at the election tribunal.

Sen. Ewhrudjakpo withdrew the motion he earlier filed to vacate the subpoena that was issued for him to appear before the state governorship tribunal sitting in Abuja to tender a copy of his disputed National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, Exemption Certificate that was allegedly issued in 1998.

Ewhrudjakpo’s lead counsel, Mr. Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume, SAN, told the Justice Muhammad Sirajo-led three-member panel tribunal that he would appear to testify in the petition seeking to sack him and the Governor, Duoye Diri, from office over alleged certificate forgery.

The Street Journal had earlier reported that the governorship candidate of Liberation Movement, LM, in Bayelsa state, Vijah Opuama, had filed a petition challenging the outcome of the last gubernatorial election in the state, alleging that Senator Ewhrudjakpo submitted forged documents to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

Mr. Opuama alleged that the Bayelsa deputy governor gave false information in the Form CF001 he tendered to INEC for the governorship election that held in the state on November 16, 2019.

Mr Opuama has continuously urged the tribunal to disqualify Governor Diri, his deputy, Senator Ewhirudjakpo and their political party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on the ground of the infraction,

He is also calling on the tribunal to order a fresh election in Bayelsa state without the disqualified parties.

After the tribunal relocated its proceedings to Abuja, it issued an invitation in the form of subpoena duces tecum (witness summons) on May 5, directing the deputy governor to appear in person and tender a copy of his disputed NYSC Exemption Certificate.

Speaking to the tribunal, his lawyer said: “I got a call from my client this morning and he notified me that he is not only asking me to withdraw this motion, but to also inform the tribunal that he will waive personal service of the subpoena on him, as well as all expenses meant for subpoenaed witnesses.

“He said he will come as soon as the tribunal gives him a date, to be a witness of the prosecution”.

In a short ruling, Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Sirajo, struck out the motion marked EPT/BY/GOV/02/M42/20.

“The motion having been withdrawn, it is accordingly struck out. The 4th defendant is hereby directed to appear before the tribunal on Thursday”, Justice Sirajo held.

The Street Journal had also reported that the Department of State Service, DSS, had told the tribunal that its investigation revealed that there was an alteration in Ewhrudjakpo disputed NYSC Exemption Certificate.

Speaking on behalf of its Director-General, the Head of Legal Department of the DSS, Mr. Abdulsalam Ibrahim told the tribunal that an Abuja court ordered the secret service to investigate an allegation of certificate forgery against the Bayelsa state deputy governor.

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