Bayelsa State Deputy Governor, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, has broken his silence to deny ever presenting a forged National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) exemption certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to aid his qualification to contest the Senate and governorship elections, explaining that he would not have even contemplated such action because his academic documents are genuine. The allegations are therefore baseless and entirely without merit.
Ewhrudjakpo, who spoke through his counsel, Clement Kekemeke, in Abuja, explained that the NYSC made a spelling error on his surname, adding that he later wrote to the NYSC, notifying it of the error and the NYSC corrected it and reissued him with a new exemption certificate bearing his correct name. Kekemeke said: “The position of my client is that he never forged NYSC exemption certificate.”
A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Benjamin Youndiowei, had dragged Ewhrudjakpo, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and INEC to court, claiming that Ewhrudjakpo had issued a forged certificate to the INEC to aid his qualification as the running mate of Douye Diri, who was recently sworn-in as the Governor of Bayelsa State after the Supreme Court sacked the APC candidate and presumed governor-elect, David Lyon because his running mate presented fake certificates to INEC.
But Ewhrudjakpo insisted that at no time did he falsify his NYSC Exemption Certificate. He disclosed that the typographical error which he complained to the NYSC office was corrected even before he contested for the election as deputy governor to Senator Diri Douye. The deputy governor, who displayed the original of his credentials, said that justice would soon silence those bent on dragging his name in the mud, explaining that the allegation was a public issue before he was nominated as running mate to the newly inaugurated governor of the state.
“Sometimes in 2019 preparatory to the National Assembly elections, and specifically that of Bayelsa West Senatorial District, where Senator Ewhrudjakpo 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 statue-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 mis-spelt. Instead of Ewhrudjakpo, the name was mis-spelt as Ewrudjakpa. After the matter was struck out and even though my client had earlier applied for the correction of this mis-spelt name, he was further bored by that matter by re-applying 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.”
Kekemeka stated that based on the complaint on the error, a new exemption certificate was issued to the deputy governor and that the matter had been put to rest following the issuance of a fresh exemption certificate by the NYSC. However, he said that because of politics, the matter again resurrected much to the disappointment of all who knew the true position of things”.
The clarification came as the APC yesterday alleged of a subterranean plot by Ewhrudjakpo and the PDP to swap his alleged forged National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) certificates with a genuine one. The APC in a statement by its Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, disclosed that the party had already obtained the certified true copies of the allegedly forged NYSC certificates in anticipation of the act. Warning the leadership and officials of the INEC and NYSC not to allow themselves to be used to swap the alleged forget certificates, the APC also urged them not to succumb to pressure from the PDP and its agents.
The party said members of the public were already aware of the forgery case and the decision of APC national leadership to continue to pursue all legal avenues to contest INEC’s decision to declare Diri as governor “having failed to meet the mandatory constitutional requirement to clinch the position.”