*NYSC corrected the error, says Ewhrudjakpo
*APC kicks, insists he’s involved in forgery
By Ezeocha Nzeh
Even as the controversy raged, the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Sen. Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, yesterday denied allegations that he presented forged National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) Exemption Certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to aid his qualification for the governorship election.
He made the denial even as the All Progressives Congress (APC), same day in a statement cautioned the deputy governor and his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), not to swap or tamper with the certificates as it (the APC), already has a copy of the allegedly forged certificate belonging to the deputy governor.
But Sen. Ewhrudjakpo who spoke through one of his lawyer, Clement Kekemeke on Sunday, explained that the NYSC certificate referred to was genuine, adding however that the NYSC only made a spelling error on his surname, which was later corrected when he (Ewhrudjakpo) made an official complaint to the NYSC last year.
He said the NYSC later corrected it and re-issued him with a replacement Exemption Certificate bearing his correct name.
Kekemeke said: “The position of my client is that he never forged NYSC exemption certificate. They are just making noise. All those are what you should expect under the circumstances such as in Bayelsa state. People will be looking for mud to throw at some other persons”.
A chieftain of the APC in the state, Benjamin Youndiowei, had dragged the Deputy Governor, PDP, and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to court claiming that Ewhrudjakpo submitted a forged certificate to INEC to aid his qualification as the running mate of Sen. Douye Diri, the current Governor of the state.
The development led to a pronouncement by an Abuja Area Court, on Wednesday, ordering the Department of State Security (DSS) to investigate the NYSC Certificate forgery allegation made against the deputy governor.
According to his lawyer, “sometime in 2019, preparatory to the National Assembly Election, and specifically that of Bayelsa-West Senatorial District, where Sen. 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 provisions of the 1999 Constitution.
“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 for the issuance of a new certificate.
“He drew the attention of the NYSC to the error on his surname and sought for a re-issuance of a corrected 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 locus standi to replace an erroneously issued certificate. That has put the matter to rest”.
But the APC Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yekini Nabena, insisting the NYSC certificate being paraded by the deputy governor is forged, as he already obtained a certified true copy of the certificate, warning NYSC not to issue any fresh certificate to him or swap the one he is holding.
Nabena said: “Information reaching us is that agents of the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Sen. Lawrence Oborawharievwo Ewhrudjakpo, have approached officials of INEC and NYSC with bribe offers to swap the allegedly forged NYSC certificates he presented to INEC for the senate and deputy governorship positions.
“We have already obtained certified true copies of the allegedly forged NYSC certificate the Bayelsa Deputy Governor presented to INEC. I hereby call on the leadership of INEC to tread cautiously by resisting the pressure and rejecting the bribes of the Bayelsa Deputy Governor to swap the NYSC certificates”.