By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — The Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, on Tuesday, withdrew the motion he filed to vacate the subpoena that was issued for him to appear before the state governorship tribunal sitting in Abuja to tender a copy of his disputed National Youth Service Corps, NYSC, Exemption Certificate allegedly issued in 1998.
Ewhrudjakpo, through his lead counsel, Mr. Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume, SAN, told the Justice Muhammad Sirajo-led three-member panel tribunal that he would appear to testify in the petition seeking to sack him and the governor, Duoye Diri, from office over alleged certificate forgery.
The governorship candidate of Liberation Movement, LM, in Bayelsa state, Vijah Opuama, had in the petition he filed to challenge the outcome of the last gubernatorial election in the state, alleged that Senator Ewhrudjakpo submitted forged documents to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC.
He alleged that the Bayelsa deputy governor gave false information in the Form CF001 he tendered to INEC for the purpose of the governorship election that held in the state on November 16, 2019.
Consequently, the petitioner is praying the tribunal to disqualify governor Diri, his deputy, Senator Ewhirudjakpo and their political party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on ground of the infraction and order for a fresh election in Bayelsa state without the disqualified party.
Following an application by the petitioner, the tribunal which relocated its proceedings to Abuja, on May 5, issued an invitation in the form of subpoena duces tecum (witness summons), directing the deputy governor to appear in person and tender a copy of his disputed NYSC Exemption Certificate.
Meanwhile, though the embattled deputy governor initially filed a motion to challenge the witness summon he said was abuse of court process, however, at the resumed proceeding on Tuesday, he told the tribunal that he would honour the invitation.
Addressing the tribunal, his lawyer said: “I got a call from my client this morning and he notified me that he is not only asking me to withdraw this motion, but to also inform the tribunal that he will waive personal service of the subpoena on him, as well as all expenses meant for subpoenaed witnesses. He said he will come as soon as the tribunal gives him a date, to be a witness of the prosecution”.
In a short ruling, Chairman of the tribunal, Justice Sirajo, struck out the motion marked EPT/BY/GOV/02/M42/20.
“The motion having been withdrawn, it is accordingly struck out. The 4th defendant is hereby directed to appear before the tribunal on Thursday”, Justice Sirajo held.
The Department of State Service, DSS, earlier told the tribunal that its investigation revealed that there was an alteration in Ewhrudjakpo disputed NYSC Exemption Certificate.
The Head of Legal Department of the DSS, Mr. Abdulsalam Ibrahim, who appeared on behalf of its Director-General, told the tribunal the secret service was previously ordered by an Abuja Court to investigate allegation of certificate forgery against the Bayelsa state deputy governor.