An investigation by the Department of State Service says the exemption certificate issued by the National Youth Service Corps to Bayelsa deputy governor Lawrence Oborawharievwo Ewhrudjakpo was altered.
But it insists the alteration was done by the NYSC at Ewhrudjakpo’s instance.
DSS presented its report into allegation of document forgery against Ewhudjakpo on Monday.
An Abuja Area Court in February ordered DSS to investigate the allegation based on a suit against Ewhudjakpo by Benjamin Youdiowei, a chieftain of APC in Bayelsa.
The report of the investigation was on Monday tendered before the Bayelsa State Governorship Election Tribunal in Abuja by the agency’s Head of Legal Department, Abdulsalam Ibrahim.
Ibrahim was at the tribunal to tender documents and testify for the petitioner upon a subpoena issued on the DG, DSS by the tribunal.
It would be recalled that Ewhrudjakpo of the PDP was sworn in as deputy governor of the state when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) pronounced Douye Diri as the elected governor of the state following the Supreme Court judgment disqualifying the former governor-elect, David Lyon of the APC.
Before his swearing-in, Ewhrudjakpo, who was in the Senate representing Bayelsa West Senatorial District, was dragged before the court in Lugbe, Abuja on the allegation of presenting a forged NYSC Exemption Certificate with code No: 139708 dated Feb. 2, 1998, on his nomination form to INEC.
Challenging the election of Diri at the tribunal, the candidate of the Liberation Movement (LM) in the November 16, 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa, Vijah Opuama had petitioned the tribunal, alleging that Ewhrudjakpo submitted forged exemption certificate and documents that contain false information to INEC before the election.
The DSS representative told the tribunal that his agency conducted an investigation by reaching out to the NYSC.
He stated that the NYSC DG wrote to the DG of DSS, wherein it was confirmed that there was an alteration in the surname in the exemption certificate issued Ewhrudjakpo.
The petitioner’s lawyer later tendered a copy of the subpoena, a copy of the letter from the Area Court and two investigation reports dated May 27 and 28, 2020, including an annexure from the NYSC, through the witness.
Respondents’ lawyers, including Ibrahim Bawa (SAN), Chris Uche (SAN) and Chukwuma Machwkwu Umeh did not object to the tendering of the documents, following which the tribunal admitted them and marked them Exhibits P1, P2, P3 and P4.
Upon a request by Pius, Ibrahim read the conclusion of the report of the investigation conducted by his agency, which the tribunal had admitted in evidence.
“Based on the foregoing and the relevant documents forwarded to this service, it is evident that the subject altered the spelling of his surname to reflect the letter D as against the letter O in the certificate of exception earlier issued by NYSC,” the conclusion of the report, as read out by Ibrahim, stated.
Under cross-examination by the lawyer to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Emmanuel Enoidem, Ibrahim confirmed that the alteration in the certificate was effected by the NYSC.
The witness agreed with Enoidem that it is the bearer of a name that knows how best to spell his/her name.
Under cross-exemination by Chris Uche (SAN), lawyer to Diri, the witness said the alteration was done by the NYSC upon the request by Ewhrudjakpo.
Uche later asked the witness to read paragraph 7 of a document marked “P3” (one of the reports the investigation by the DSS), which Ibrahim read, thus: “it is based on this recent finding, that we wish to bring to the notice of the DSS that we (the NYSC) corrected the certificate of exemption to read Ewhrudjakpo. Only the last letter A was corrected to read letter O.”
When asked to identify an attachment to the report, the witness identified it as “Annexure 2,” which he explained “is a letter to the NYSC seeking a request for correction, following which the correction was now made.”
At the conclusion of the witness’s testimony, Pius said his next witness is Ewhrudjakpo, who he said has been subpoenaed to produce the original copy of the certificate of exemption.
Pius said, by his case plan, the Deputy Governor was the next appropriate witness for the petitioner.
The tribunal’s Chairman, Justice Ibrahim Sirajo adjourned till Tuesday (June 2) for the hearing of a motion by Ewhrudjakpo, challenging his invitation as the petitioner’s witness.