Court of Appeal on Friday reserved judgment in Bayelsa deputy governor’s alleged certificate forgery suit.
The Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, asked the Court of Appeal in Abuja to dismiss the alleged certificate forgery suit brought against him by the governorship candidate of Accord Party, Mr Ebizimo Diriyai.
Diriyai is appealing the August judgment of the Bayelsa Governorship Election Petition Tribunal that dismissed his petition against the November 16, 2019 governorship election in Bayelsa.
When the matter came up on Friday, Ewhrudjakpo told the Justice Adzira Mshella led five-member panel of justices that the case of the Accord Party on the alleged certificate forgery was statute barred.
He said it was statute barred because it was not filed within the 14 days stipulated by Section 285 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Earlier, Mr Chukwuma Machukwu-Umeh, SAN, counsel to Ewhrudjakpo told the court that what the appellant took to the state election petition tribunal was a pre-election matter which was erroneously labeled as a post-election matter.
Machukwu-Umeh said in compliance with relevant laws, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), published names of Bayelsa governorship candidates and their running mates 60 days before the election .
This, he added was for the general public to make claims and objections.
He contended that in breach of the law, the Accord Party’s governorship candidate did not file any claim or objection within the 14 days allowed by law.
The senior lawyer further argued that being a pre-election matter, the appellant ought to have filed his case at a Federal High Court; High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) or High Court of a state.
He said the appellant no longer had a live case against the deputy governor and urged the court to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.
Other respondents in the suit, Governor Douye Diri, INEC and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) also asked the appellate court to dismiss the appeal for being incompetent and a waste of the court’s time.
They prayed the court to uphold the judgment of the tribunal which had earlier dismissed the appellant‘s petition along with three others.
After taking arguments from all counsel in the matter, Justice Adriza Mshella, announced that judgment was reserved and a date would be communicated to parties in the suit.
The Bayelsa Election Petition Tribunal had in August, dismissed the petition of Diriyai against Ewhrudjakpo; the petition was dismissed on the grounds that the allegation of certificate forgery against Ewhrudjakpo was not proved by the petitioner.
Diriyai had dragged INEC, Diri, Ewhrudjakpo and the PDP before the tribunal alleging certificate forgery and falsehood against the deputy governor.
He alleged that the deputy governor forged his NYSC exemption certificate, which he presented to contest the November 16 governorship election in Bayelsa.