Adetutu Folasade-Koyi and Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja
Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri, at the weekend, declared in Abuja, that his deputy, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, has no forgery case to answer.
Diri, at an interactive parley with newsmen, yesterday, also disclosed that contrary to reports, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) only instituted a “false information” suit against the All Progressives Congress (APC) deputy governor-elect, Senator Biobarakuma Degi-Eremienyo, and not a forgery case.
The governor insisted there is no forgery case against his deputy because the discrepancy in his name was a mistake from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) which had since been rectified.
“We didn’t take any forgery case to the court. We took a case of giving false information to INEC to court and so the onus on him was to prove the multiple names he claimed to possess.
“We didn’t institute a case of forgery. We instituted a case of false information. Whoever wants to sue him on forgery can do that. We’ve succeeded in our own case.”
On his deputy, he said: “My deputy governor’s case has no similarity with that of the APC deputy governor-elect.
“In fact, there’s no case at all. National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) misspelt his name on his exemption certificate. He is also a lawyer and promptly wrote to NYSC that that was not his certificate as his names were misspelt and NYSC promptly issued a new certificate.
“I’ve sighted it. They are looking for every straw to pull us down but God has pulled us up and no man can pull us down.
“He had already instituted a N200 million case in that regard but it has been overtaken by section 308 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, as he enjoys immunity.”
Diri acknowledged that he and the PDP are worried by Timi Alaibe’s suit challenging the conduct of the party’s governorship primary which produced the governor as candidate.
He, however, extended a hand of fellowship to Timi Alaibe, who he acknowledged, the state would benefit from his wealth of experience, as a valuable Bayelsa son.
In the same vein, Ewhrudjakpo denied forging his NYSC exemption certificate, which he submitted to INEC.
He told journalists at a press briefing in Abuja, that issues relating to his NYSC exemption certificate were already in the public domain before his nomination as PDP deputy governorship candidate in the last governorship election.
The deputy governor, who spoke through his counsel, Clement Kekemeke, said there was an error in his name in the exemption certificate and added that the NYSC admitted it misspelt his name, following a formal complaint he made to the corps.
He noted that after acknowledging its error, the NYSC issued him a fresh certificate.
“Sometimes in 2019 preparatory to the National Assembly elections, and specifically that of Bayelsa West Senatorial District, where Ewrudjakpo represented until he was sworn in as deputy governor; one Ibisene Afamkolo took him to the Federal High Court and commenced a suit by way of originating summons accusing him of presenting a forged NYSC exemption certificate.
“While dealing with that matter, being a pre-election matter; at a point, it became status barred having exceeded the period of 180 days within which it ought to have been dispensed with by virtue of the provision of the 1999 Constitution…” he said.