…As petitioner closes case after three witnesses

The Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, will this Friday open his defence in an alleged certificate forgery brought against him before the State governorship election tribunal.

Before the tribunal, the governorship candidate of the Liberation Movement (LM). Mr Vijah Opuama in his petition accused the deputy governor of forgery as contained in his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) exemption certificate supplied to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)

Ewhrudjakpo will defend himself at the State’s Governorship Electoral Petition tribunal where his nomination for the governorship position is being challenged.

The tribunal presided over Justice Ibrahim Sirajo, sitting in Abuja fixed June 12 for the defence of the deputy governor after the petitioner formally closed his case on Tuesday.

The petitioner, Mr Vijah Opuama through his counsel, Mr Pius Danba had rested his case after calling three out of 30 witnesses billed to testify against the nomination of Ewhrudjakpo for the November 16, 2019, governorship poll.

At Tuesday’s proceedings, the petitioner who served as 3rd witness, was confronted with anomalies in his own certificate by Ewhrudjakpo’s lawyer, Mr Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume SAN.

Ume, noted that the discrepancies in the documents that the petitioner presented to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in aid of his qualification indicated that the issue of alleged certificate forgery was nothing more than a mere human error that should not be taken as forgery.

Speaking with journalists shortly after the proceedings, Ume said, “The way the petitioner closed his case has shown that it is a small issue of human error, small slips does not amount to forgery and falsification”.

Before the petitioner closed his case, he had last week withdrew his prayer on the tribunal to subpoenaed the deputy governor to give evidence in the matter.

The petitioner had withdrew the application on the grounds that he no longer needed Ewhrudjakpo to testify for him as a witness.

Opuama, is challenging Ewhrudjakpo’s qualification to stand in the Bayelsa State governorship election, on the grounds that the deputy governor submitted a forged exemption certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before the election.

The Tribunal had, in a subpoena last week Tuesday ordered the state’s Deputy Governor to appear before it on Thursday to produce the original copy of his disputed certificate, following an application to that effect by the petitioner.

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.

It would be recalled that the Department of State Service (DSS) one of the witnesses who testified on behalf of the petitioner had told the tribunal that the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) actually effected the change of name on the exemption certificate issued to Ewhrudjakpo.

The witness further told the tribunal that Ewhrudjakpo after noticing that there was a mistake in his name had asked the NYSC to make necessary correction.

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