The candidate of the Liberation Movement (LM) in the November 16, 2019 Bayelsa State governorship election, Vijah Opuama has apologised to Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo over error in a subpoena to testify over alleged certificate forgery.
On Thursday, June 4, during a court sitting at the tribunal, the petitioner’s lawyer, Mr C.D Pius, asked that the application made to the court for the deputy governor, Sen. Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo to appear as a witness of the fourth respondent should be withdrawn.
Mr. Pius expressed that there was a mistake with the subpoena issued and apologized to the court.
The Street Journal had earlier reported that the Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Abuja had granted Opuama’s request to subpoena Ewhrudjakpo to appear and present an original copy of his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).
But at the resumed hearing on Thursday, the three-member panel of the tribunal led by Justice Ibrahim Sirajo scolded counsel to Opuama, Pius Pius Esq for filing a fresh subpoena on Wednesday night after realising an error in the initial subpoena to the deputy governor.
The initial subpoena had directed the deputy governor to appear before the tribunal and tender original of the certificate, but in the new subpoena, LM intended to make him a proper witness to testify from the dock.
Although the deputy governor initially challenged the subpoena application through a motion but however changed his mind and presented himself in obedience to the order of the tribunal.
When the matter was called on Thursday, Ewhrudjakpo was in court ready to testify.
Pius then made an oral application to withdraw his application for Ewhrudjakpo to testify.
He then apologized to the witness and the tribunal.
“I would like to apologise to the witness for bringing him to court on a subpoena that was never intended,” he said.
“I equally apologise to the inner bar and indeed the bench as no human is above error.”
Responding, Governor Douye Diri’s lawyer, Chief Chris Uche SAN, expressed disappointment, describing the development as “a deliberate act of disrespect and the highest form of abuse of court process”.
Uche added that despite the ban on interstate travels and local flights, “the petitioners subjected the deputy governor to this serious ordeal and exposure to risk and hardship.”
Ewhrudjakpo’s lawyer, Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume SAN, on his part prayed the court to award a consequential cost of N5 million against the petitioners.
In a short ruling, the chairman of the three man panel, Justice Ibrahim Sirajo held that “the tribunal cannot dictate to a party how to conduct his case”, and went ahead to dismiss the application, without cost.
Speaking to journalists after the court session, Ewhrudjakpo described the petitioner as one with intents to malign him.
“There are some persons in this country that should be respected, and that is people like us who don’t have any skeletons in our cupboard,” he said.
He disclosed that he had to wave his immunity, drove by road and slept in Lokoja last night so as to make it in court today.
“I have come here to prove to the whole world that my certificates are intact, authentic and I have never altered any document and I will take the appropriate actions as far as this issues are concerned because defamation has come into this issue, maligning has come into this issue, libel has come into this issue.
“You don’t expect a deputy governor to leave his state to come here only for you to have a rethink. This shows that the petition as we have always maintained is not only frivolous, deceitful, but it is being sponsored by some persons who don’t want Bayelsa to progress.”
The deputy governor, who said he was ready to show to the court the original copy of his exemption certificate as issued to him by the National Youths Service Corps (NYSC), said he never forged nor faked any of his certificates.
Details to come