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Bayelsa Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo has faulted the subpoena issued on him by the governorship tribunal, to attend its June 1 proceedings and tender the original copy of his National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) exemption certificate issued in 1998.
The subpoena duces tecum (witness summons) was issued on May 5, 2020 by the Chairman of the Bayelsa State Governorship Election Tribunal in Abuja upon a request by the petitioner, Vijah Opuama, who is among others, querying the authenticity of the university and NYSC exemption certificates that Ewhrudjakpo submitted to the electoral umpire.
Opuama, who was the candidate of Liberation Movement (LM) in the last governorship election in Bayelsa State alleged, in his petition, that Senator Ewhrudjakpo submitted forged documents and affidavit with false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the 16 November 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa State.
In a fresh motion by his team of lawyers led by Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume (SAN), Ewhrudjakpo argued that the subpoena did not only constitute an abuse of court process, it is meant to spite his office and calculated to make him implicate himself.
Ewhrudjakpo contended that the subpoena was unnecessary because the petitioner has invited the Director General of the NYSC to tender the same exemption certificate and has also asked INEC to produce the same certificate.
The Deputy Governor, who denied being served with the subpeona as required, noted that the core allegations against are crimes of forgery, falsification and perjury.
He argued that, as the person against whom all the criminal allegations are directed, “an accused cannot turn to be a witness for the prosecutor.
“Suddenly turning the 4th respondent (Ewhrudjakpo) to be petitioner’s witness in proof of the alleged crimes of forgery, falsification and perjury beyond reasonable doubt is a subtle way for the 4th respondent to self-incriminate himself.
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“The 4th respondent is an existing party in the petition and is already an existing witness with witness statement on oath duly before the tribunal.”
Ewhrudjakpo, who argued that he has Iawful protection against self-incrimination under the Constitution, prayed the court to set aside the May 5 subpoena issued on him.
The petitioner, in a counter-affidavit, faulted the Deputy Governor’s argument and insisted that the subpoena was properly issued and has been served on him personally as required.
“The original copy of the NYSC exemption certificate with serial No. 139708 dated 2nd February 1998 in the name of Ewhrudjakpo Lawrence 0 is required to prove the petitioner‘s case.
“The original copy of the NYSC exemption certificate with serial I‘r D9708 dated 2nd February 1998 in the name of Ewhrudjakpo Lawrence 0 is in custody of the 4th respondent.
“The original copy of the NYSC Exemption certificate with serial No. 139708 dated 2nd February 1998 in the name of Ewhrudjakpo Lawrence 0 is required to show that the 4nd respondent is not qualified to contest the Bayclsa State Governorship election held on 16th November 2019.
“The 4th respondent is not an accused person and there is no any criminal charge preferred against him for any criminal offence before this tribunal at all.
“The petitioner has listed and indicated to call witnesses on subpoena in the petition as well as the petitioner’s reply to the 4th respondent‘s reply,” he said.
The petitioner prayed the tribunal to dismiss the new motion filed by Ewhrudjakpo on May 17and insist that he honours the subpoena.
One of the reliefs as contained in the petition, is for the tribunal to disqualify the Governor, Senator Duoye Diri, Ewhirudjakpo and their political party – the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – and order a fresh election without the disqualified PDP.