Bayelsa Dep Gov waives immunity, presents NYSC certificate in court

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Lawrence Ewhrudjakpor, deputy governor of Bayelsa state, on Thursday, presented his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) certificate before the Bayelsa state governorship election petitions tribunal in Abuja.

The development comes days after Abdulsalam Ibrahim, head, legal department of the Department of State Service (DSS), told the tribunal in Abuja that it was discovered that the certificate was altered after his agency was ordered by an Abuja court to investigate allegation of certificate forgery against Ewhrudjakpo.

The tribunal struck out the subpoena issued against the deputy governor after the petitioner made an application for withdrawal.

Vijah Opuama, who was the candidate of the Liberation Movement (LM) in the 2019 governorship election, had petitioned the tribunal, alleging that Ewhrudjakpo submitted forged exemption certificate and documents that contain false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Opuama had in an application urged the tribunal to issue a subpoena against the deputy governor mandating him to come to testify as their witness.

The tribunal had issued a subpoena on May 5 mandating the deputy governor to appear in court to defend himself.

On May 17, Ewhrudjakpo through his counsel, Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume, filed an application challenging the competence of the subpoena.

However, Ume turned around on Tuesday, June 2, informing the tribunal that his client would appear to testify in court.

At the resumed hearing on Thursday, the deputy governor appeared before the tribunal and indicated his readiness to testify.

However, in an unexpected turn, Pius Dande informed the tribunal of intentions to withdraw the subpoena.

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According to Dande, there is an error on the face of the subpoena.

He said the subpoena was intended for the deputy governor to tender document and not bring him to court.

Dande said he has filed an application before the tribunal seeking to correct the error, but Mohammed Cirajo, who led the three-man tribunal, refused to grant the application.

The petitioner’s counsel then made an oral application to withdraw the subpoena.

“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.”

Chris Uche, counsel to Douye Diri, governor of Bayelsa state, described the development as “a deliberate act of disrespect and the highest form of abuse of court process”.

“On two occasions, we were all led to appear before this honourable tribunal and held to ransom on grounds that the deputy governor must come here in person, to testify as the petitioner’s witness,” he said.

Uche added that despite the ban on interstate travel and local flights, “the petitioners subjected the deputy governor to this serious ordeal and exposure to risk and hardship.”

Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume, counsel to the deputy governor, urged the court to award a consequential cost of N5 million against the petitioners.

Ruling on the application brought by the petitioners, Cirajo held that “the tribunal cannot dictate to a party how to conduct his case.”

There was no order as to cost.

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Speaking to journalists after the court session, Ewhrudjakpo described the petitioner as a “miscreant” whose intention was to 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 skeleton in our cupboard,” he said.

“I waived my immunity, I drove by road, slept in Lokoja last night and came in today because one miscreant feels he can malign me. And 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 these 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.”

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About Samuel Abasiekong 820 Articles
Samuel Abasiekong, Senior Journalist, Newspaper Publisher, Author of many literature text books, French-English, English-French languages Translator and Interpreter, Multi-sectoral Counsellor & Consultant, National Convener of National Public Interest Group - NPIG, Secretary Uyo Division of the Nigerian Red Cross Society, News Editor & Reporter @ 9News Nigeria

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