Alleged Certificate Forgery: Bayelsa Deputy Governor Waives Immunity

…….Says He’s Ready To Appear Before Tribunal

Bayelsa state Deputy Governor , Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo has withdrawn the motion he filed to vacate the subpoena that ordered him to appear before the state Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja.

The Tribunal has asked him to tender a copy of his disputed National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, Exemption Certificate allegedly issued in 1998.

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

Bayelsa State Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo

The governorship candidate of Liberation Movement at the November 16th 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa state, Vijah Opuama had in a petition alleged that Senator Ewhrudjakpo submitted forged documents to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.

He alleged that the Bayelsa deputy governor gave false information in the Form CF001 he submitted to INEC ahead of the governorship election.

The petitioner asked the tribunal to disqualify Governor Diri, his deputy, Senator Ewhirudjakpo and their political party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, on the grounds of the infraction and order for fresh election in Bayelsa state without the PDP presenting a candidate or participating in the requested election.

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

The embattled deputy governor who initially filed a motion to challenge the witness summon which he described as abuse of court process, however, at the resumed proceeding on Tuesday told the tribunal that he will honour the invitation.

‘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’ his lawyer told the Tribunal.

In his 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’ he said.

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

The Head of Legal Department of the DSS, Mr. Abdulsalam Ibrahim, who appeared on behalf of its Director-General told the tribunal that the secret service was previously ordered by an Abuja Court to investigate allegation of certificate forgery against the Bayelsa state deputy governor.

It will be recalled that a five-man panel headed by Justice Mary Peter-Odili of the Supreme Court had on Thursday, February 13, 2020 in a judgment read by Justice Ejembi Eko nullified the then Bayelsa state governor-elect, David Lyon’s election victory on the grounds that his deputy, Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo provided false information to INEC.

The electoral umpire, Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, had on the 18th of November 2019 declared David Lyon winner of the November 16th 2019 governorship election.

David Lyon was the candidate of the ruling APC. The PDP candidate, Senator Duoye Diri and Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo were consequently sworn in as governor and Deputy Governor on February 14, 2020.