Godwin Tsa, Abuja
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.
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 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.
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 yesterday’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.
Ume noted that the discrepancies in the documents that the petitioner presented to the 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.
Before the petitioner closed his case, he had last week withdrawn his prayer on the tribunal to subpoena the deputy governor to give evidence in the matter.
The petitioner had withdrawn the application on the grounds that he no longer needed Ewhrudjakpo to testify for him as a witness.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 INEC before the election.
The tribunal had, in a subpoena last week Tuesday ordered the 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.