Bayelsa State Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, has denied forging his National Youth Service Corps, (NYSC) Exemption Certificate.
Ewhrudjakpo who spoke through his lawyer, Clement Kekemeke at a press conference in Abuja explained that there was an error on his certificate which the NYSC rectified by issuing him another one after he drew their attention to it.
“Sometimes in 2019 preparatory to the National Assembly elections, and specifically that of Bayelsa West Senatorial District, where 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 misspelt. Instead of Ewhrudjakpo, the name was misspelt 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.”
Barrister Kekemeka, who displayed court papers and documents including the fresh certificate issued by the NYSC to replace the old one, said his client was amazed when the matter resurfaced again much to the shock of those knew the real position of the matter” he said.
“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, APC) initiated a direct complain at the Grade 1 Area Court, Lugbe, Federal Capital Territory, FCT, 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.
“Ironically, the Area Court judge proceeded to issue a bench warrant against our client and directed the Wuye Police Station to arrest him, then a Senator and prosecute him for forgery of NYSC Exemption Certificate. Worried by this development, our client took up a judicial review before the FCT High Court before His Lordship, Honourable Justice Belgore seeking that the proceedings at Grade One Area Court be brought to the FCT High Court for the purpose of quashing because the court lacked the jurisdiction to sit on that kind of matter” he added.
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Benjamin Youdiowei had dragged Ewhrudjakpo before a Grade 1 Area Court in Abuja alleging that he forged his exemption certificate.