Godwin Tsa Abuja
The authorities of the Rivers State University (RSU) yesterday told the Bayesla State Governorship election tribunal sitting in Abuja that the state deputy governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo graduated from the institution in 1996/1997 academic session.
The confirmation came on the heels of a petition filed by a candidate of the Liberation Movement (LM) in the November 16, 2019, governorship candidate in the state, Mr. Vijah Opuama challenging Ewhrudjakpo’s qualification to stand election.
He alleged in his petition that the deputy governor submitted a forged exemption certificate of his National Youth Service (NYSC) certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission before the election.
The petitioner further told the tribunal that there were discrepancies in the name of the deputy governor on his NYSC exemption certificate.
But clearing the controversy, a staff of the University from the Directorate of Legal Services, Fyne Le Amanyie told the tribunal that the deputy governor actually graduated from the school.
Amanyie, a subpoenaed witness who testified as RW4 explained that although the deputy governor graduated in 1996/1997 academic session, “but that the ceremony took place in 1998.”
The witness who was led in evidence by counsel to Senator Ewhirudjakpo, Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume (SAN) said he has been a staff of the institution for over 30 years.
“I am a legal officer in the Department of Directorate of Legal Services, Rivers State University. I was subpoenaed by the tribunal on June 11, 2020.
Making clarifications on the controversy surrounding the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Exemption Certificate, the deputy governor, Amanyie said that his surname was misspelt, adding that instead of Ewhrudjakpo, the name was misspelt as Ewhrudjakpa.
“He wrote a letter to to the university dated January 1, 2000 complaining that his name was misspelt in his degree certificate and that it should be corrected. The 4th respondent applied to the university for the correction of his name through the Exams/Record Department.”
The witness tendered some documents including the Certified True Copies (CTC) of spread sheet of result of part time students of the University of 1996 including the CTC of the convocation brochure of the school.
“The 4th respondent (Ewhirudjakpo) graduated in 1996 but the ceremony took place in 1998”, he told the tribunal,” he testified.
On his part, the deputy governor had told the tribunal that there was an error in his NYSC Exemption Certificate, which he explained was the fault of NYSC, adding that it has been corrected when he applied to Corps authority.
Under cross examination, the DSS admitted that the deputy governor was not invited during its investigation into the allegation.
According to Ibrahim, “we did not interface with the 4th respondent or interview him in the course of our investigation.”
Meanwhile, the three-man tribunal has adjourned for the adoption of briefs by parties to the petition on a date to be communicated to them. This was after the deputy governor had announced through his counsel, Ume that he had closed his case.