Dirisu Yakubu – Abuja
Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, on Sunday lifted the lid on the controversy surrounding his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) exemption certificate, saying at no point did he contemplate forging a document for any purpose.
Exuding confidence that he would soon silence those bent on dragging his name in the mud, the deputy governor told journalists that allegations had been in the public domain even before he was nominated as running mate to the new governor of Bayelsa, Duoye Diri, in the 2019 governorship election.
Ewhrudjakpo, who spoke through his counsel, Clement Bibisa Kekemeka, admitted to an error in his NYSC exemption certificate but quickly laid the blame on the corps authority whom he said, erroneously spelt his surname.
He said: “Sometimes in 2019 preparatory to the National Assembly elections, and specifically that of Bayelsa West Senatorial District, which Senator 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.
“The next thing that followed was that truly on the certificate presented to INEC by my client in his form CS001, which is the nomination form, his surname was spelt wrongly. Instead of Ewhrudjakpo, the name was written as Ewhrudjakpa. After the matter was struck out and even though my client had earlier applied for the correction of this misspelt name, he was further bored by that matter by reapplying again for the issuance of a new certificate.
“He applied again, drawing the attention of the NYSC to the error on his surname and seeking a re-issuance of a correct certificate. Consequently, the NYSC responded and reissued a fresh certificate correcting our client’s name, reflecting the surname now as Ewhrudjakpo, being the issuing authority that has the loci standi to replace an erroneously issued certificate. That put the matter to rest.”
Barr. Kekemeka said though the matter had been put to rest following the issuance of a fresh exemption certificate by the NYSC; the matter again resurrected much to the disappointment of those who knew the true position of things.
He added: While my client was nominated to run for the office of the deputy governor of Bayelsa State; One Benjamin Youdiowei (A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress) initiated a direct complain at the Grade 1 Area Court, Lugbe, Federal Capital Territory, accusing our client of presenting a forged NYSC Exemption Certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Our contention therein is that that matter is still subjudice and I won’t go into the merits or otherwise of the matter for want of care.
“But our concern was that by the Area Court amendment law, the Area Court does not even have jurisdiction over criminal matters. To have taken a pre-election matter which had become status barred to a Grade 1 Area Court was an abuse of court process and the court couldn’t have acted on it.”