By Ameh Ejekwonyilo
In what appeared like the case of the hunter becoming the hunted, the Deputy Governor of Bayelsa State, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo on Tuesday accused the governorship candidate of the Liberation Movement in the last governorship poll in the state, Mr Vijah Opuama of submitting three different names for the exercise.
Senator Ewhrudjakpo through his lawyer, Mr. Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume (SAN), while cross-examining Opuama who testified in his petition challenging the Deputy Governor’s victory in the election, told the Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja that there were inconsistencies in the First School Leaving certificate as well as the SSCE and degree certificates of the petitioner submitted to the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC).
Opuama’s FSLC, said the deputy governor, bore the name
Ikurutei Inowei, Elored Ikurutei Inowei in his WASC certificate, and Vijah Eldred Opuama in his INEC Form CF001.
The petitioner, Opuama through his counsel, Mr Pius Danba on Tuesday closed his case after calling three out of the 30 witnesses he had slated to testify against the nomination of Ewhrudjakpo for the November 16, 2019, governorship election.
At Tuesday’s proceedings, Upuama who served as 3rd witness, was confronted with discrepancies in his own certificates by Ewhrudjakpo’s lawyer, Mr. Ume.
Addressing journalists shortly after the proceedings, Ume said, “The way the petitioner closed his case has shown that it is a small issue of human error, small slip does not amount to forgery and falsification against the Deputy Governor”.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Governor will on Friday open his defence in the alleged certificate forgery brought against him at the tribunal by the governorship candidate of the Liberation Movement Mr Vijah Opuama.
The tribunal Chairman, Justice Ibrahim Sirajo, slated June 12 for the defence of the Senator Ewhrudjakpo after the petitioner formally closed his case on Tuesday.
Before the petitioner closed his case, he had last week withdrawn his application to the tribunal to subpoena the deputy governor to give evidence in the matter.
The petitioner had withdrawn the application on the grounds that he no longer needed Ewhrudjakpo to testify for him as a witness.
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.
The Tribunal had, in a subpoena last week Tuesday ordered the state’s Deputy Governor to appear before it on Thursday to produce the original copy of his disputed certificate, following an application to that effect by the petitioner.
It would be recalled that the Director-General of the State Security Service (SSS), one of the witnesses who testified on behalf of Upuama had told the tribunal that the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) actually effected the change of name on the exemption certificate issued to Ewhrudjakpo.