The Bayelsa State governorship election petition tribunal sitting Abuja was on Friday told by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) that the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) has cleared the state deputy governor, zone Senator Lawrence Ewhirudjakpo of forging his exemption certificate.
In view of this, counsel to the electoral body, Ibrahim Bawa (SAN) said there was no need to call witnesses in the petition challenging the qualification of the deputy governor.
The three-member tribunal headed by Justice Ibrahim Sirajo had on Thursday admitted in evidence a letter from the NYSC to the Department of State Security (DSS) admitting that it corrected a spelling error on Ewrhrudakpo’s exemption certificate.
But testifying on Friday, INEC counsel to INEC told the tribunal that since NYSC that issued the exemption certificate came out to admit that it indeed issued the certificate in dispute, INEC saw no need to call any witness.
Also speaking, Counsel to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Emmanuel Enoedem said all the evidence tendered by the NYSC clearly exonerated Senator Ewhrudjakpo had of any wrongdoing as alleged by the petitioner, Mr Opuamah of the Liberation Movement.
PDP said the evidence Opuama presented before the tribunal supported the position of the Deputy Governor, prompting the party not to call any witness in defence of the petition.
The petitioner, Mr Vijah Opuama, is challenging Ewhrudjakpo’s qualification to stand in the Bayelsa State governorship election, on the grounds that the deputy governor submitted a forged exemption certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before the election.
“Our candidate, the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State has been exonerated of any wrongdoing by the NYSC, which issued him its exemption certificate. So, we don’t have to waste the precious time of the honourable tribunal by calling witnesses to tender documents that have already been presented to the tribunal by the petitioner.
“Clearly, the Deputy Governor has been cleared of the forgery allegation by the relevant authorities in the matter,” the PDP lawyer told journalists at the court premises.
After listening to the submissions of the PDP and the NYSC in the matter, Justice Sirajo adjourned the suit till June 17 for the Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Diri Duoye and his Deputy, Senator Ewhrudjakpo to open their defence in the petition.
It would be recalled that the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Ewhrudjakpo on Tuesday picked holes n the certificates of the petitioner and governorship candidate of the Liberation Movement in the last government.