The Department of State Service (DSS) has confirmed that the surname of the deputy governor of Bayelsa State, Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo was altered in the exemption certificate the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) issued to him.
The Head of DSS Legal Department, Abdulsalam Ibrahim, who represented DSS’ Director General, made the confirmation before the Bayelsa State Governorship Election Tribunal in Abuja on Monday.
Recall that the candidate of the Liberation Movement (LM) in the November 16, 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa, Vijah Opuama had petitioned the tribunal, accusing Ewhrudjakpo of submitting forged exemption certificate and documents that contain false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before the election.
Appearing before the tribunal, Ibrahim said the DSS uncovered the alteration sequel to an order issued by an Abuja court for a probe into allegation of forgery against the Bayelsa State deputy governor.
He said, “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.”
When cross-examined by lawyer to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Emmanuel Enoidem, Ibrahim explained that the alteration in the certificate was effected by the NYSC following a request by Ewhrudjakpo.
He said Ewhrudjakpo, as the bearer of the name, knows how best to spell his name.
Ibrahim was also asked to read paragraph seven of a document marked “P3” (one of the reports the investigation by the DSS).
He 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.”
Ibrahim equally identified an attachment to the report as “Annexture 2,” which he explained “is a letter to the NYSC seeking a request for correction, following which the correction was now made.”
After the DSS senior officer concluded his testimony, the petitioner’s lawyer Pius Danbe Pius told the tribunal that his next witness would be Ewhrudjakpo who had been subpoenaed to produce the original copy of the certificate of exemption.
The matter was later adjourned till Tuesday, June 2, by the chairman of the tribunal, Justice Ibrahim Siraj.