THERE was a mild drama on Thursday at the Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petitions Tribunal in Abuja when a petitioner suddenly changed its mind after sighting the state’s Deputy Governor Lawrence Oborawharievwo Ewhrudjakpo, whom he requested for to be a witness.
The tribunal had issued a subpoena on Ewhrudjakpo at the instance of the candidate of the Liberation Movement (LM) in the November 16, 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa, Vijah Opuama.
The LM candidate is challenging Ewhrudjakpo’s qualification to stand for the election, alleging that he (Ewhrudjakpo) submitted a forged National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) exemption certificate to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) before the election.
On Tuesday, the tribunal ordered Ewhrudjakpo to appear before it after his lawyer, Chukwuma Machukwu Ume (SAN), withdrew his earlier application challenging the propriety of the subpoena and indicated that his client would appear before the tribunal.
At the mention of the case, the court was informed about Ewhrudjakpo’s presence in response to the subpoena served on him.
But before the deputy governor could be invited to the witness box, the petitioner’s lawyer (at whose instance the subpoena was issued), Pius Danba Pius, said he noticed an error in the subpoena and wished to withdraw it.
Pius averred that the subpoena was intended for the deputy governor to only tender document but not to attend court and give evidence.
The petitioner’s lawyer said he had filed a fresh application seeking to correct the error.
He said: “I would like to apologise to the witness for bringing him all the way from Yenagoa (Bayelsa State capital) to court on a subpoena that was never intended.
“I equally apologise to the Inner Bar and indeed, the Bench, as no human is above error.”
Responding, Governor Douye Diri’s lawyer, Chris Uche (SAN), expressed disappointment at the turn of event.
He described it as “a deliberate act of disrespect and the highest form of abuse of court process”.
Uche said the petitioner had, on two occasions, refused to proceed with the case the on grounds that the deputy governor “must come here in person, to testify as the petitioner’s witness”