Godwin Tsa, Abuja
Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, has asked the state governorship tribunal sitting in Abuja to vacate the subpoena issued on him.
In a motion on notice, dated May 17, 2020 and filed by his counsel, Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume (SAN), the deputy governor said the subpoena is a mala,fide, vain and an attempt to spite his office.
In the said subpoena, the tribunal invited Ewhrudjakpo to appear before it at the resumption of its sitting on June 1, 2020.
The invitation, which is in the form of subpoena duces tecum (witness summons) issued by the tribunal chairman on May 5, 2020, directs Ewhrudjakpo to appear in person and tender a copy of is disputed National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) exception certificate allegedly issued in 1998.
But, in his motion on notice brought pursuant to section 6(6) (a) and (b) of the 1999 Constitution and paragraphs 47(1)(3), 43(3) of the Electoral Act, 2010, he prayed the tribunal to quash the subpoena for being an abuse of court process.
He accused the petitioner of an attempt to circumvent the burden of proof beyond reasonable doubt expected of him by subpoenaing him.
Ume informed the tribunal that his client is a party to the petition with his own witness statement on oath and list of documents in support of same.
He added that already, the petitioner had subpoenaed the NYSC director general to tender his client’s exemption certificate dated February 2, 1998.
Ume argued that the core allegations of the petition are crimes of forgery, falsification and perjury which must be proved beyond reasonable doubt in an election as held in Nwobodo Vs C.C. Onoh (1984) All NLR.
The petitioner, Vijah Opuama, a governorship candidate of Liberation Movement (LM), has alleged that Ewhrudjakpo submitted forged documents that contain false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the November 16, 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa State.
He urged the tribunal to disqualify Governor Duoye Diri, Ewhirudjakpo and their political party – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – and order for a fresh election.