Abia: Court Upholds Ikpeazu Removal
LAGOS JULY 5TH (URHOBOTODAY)-Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, on Monday refused to set aside his earlier order removing Okezie Ikpeazu as governor of Abia State.
Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Governor Ikpeazu’s lawyer, had filed an application asking the court to vacate the order.
However, in his ruling, Abang said that he would not set aside the order, but that he would hear other applications on the matter on Thursday.
Justice Okon Abang had on Monday, June 27 sacked Governor Okezie Ikpeazu for tax evasion in a pre-election matter brought against him.
He had given the judgment in a suit filed by Uchechukwu Ogah, a People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) chieftain, who was the first runner up in the primaries of the party held at the Umuahia Township Stadium in December 2014, against Ikpeazu.
In the suit, Ogah contended that the governor filed a forged tax certificate prior to his election, and as such he was not qualified to hold an elective office.
The judge upheld the argument of Ogah, ordering the removal of Ikpeazu.
Abang also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a certificate of return to Ogah immediately.
Following the issuing of certificate of return to Ogah on Thursday last week there was confusion in state as the incumbent governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, dismissed the action, saying, “The status quo remains, I am still the governor of Abia State”.
Residents out of fear began hurrying to their homes as police and soldiers positioned in strategic areas for fear of breakdown of law and order.
On Monday, INEC told the court that it issued a certificate of return to Uchechukwu Ogah on June 28 recognising him as governor-elect of Abia State in compliance with the order made in the judgment of the court delivered on June 27.
Alhassan Umar, INEC’s lawyer, stated this on behalf of its client in a motion seeking a stay of the execution of the judgment sacking Okezie Ikpeazu as the governor of the state.
The motion for stay of execution of the judgment came up for hearing before Justice Okon Abang who had delivered the verdict on June 27.
Umar was responding to an application by Ikpeazu’s lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), for adjournment of the hearing of his client’s motion, till Thursday.
He said that INEC had already issued the certificate of return before the processes of the notice of appeal against the judgment and a motion for stay of execution of the judgment, both filed by Ikpeazu, were served on the commission.
He added that the notice of appeal and the motion for stay of execution of the judgment did not operate as a stay of execution of a court’s verdict in a pre-election case.
According to Umar, the law will expressly state so if it intends to make a notice of appeal to operate as a stay of execution in a pre-election case, pointing out that why a notice of appeal operated as a stay of execution of a judgment delivered by an election petition tribunal in an election petition was because it was expressly provided for under section 143(1) of the Electoral Act.
“My lord ordered the third defendant to issue certificate of return forthwith and upon service of the order, my lord, on June 28, 2016, the 3rd defendant issued a certificate of return accordingly,” Umar said.
“The certificate of return was issued before we were served with the motion on June 28. We had issued the certificate upon being served with the court order.
“But the actual presentation of the certificate was on June 30. But we had complied with the order of my lord.”
– See more at: http://independentnig.com/2016/07/05/abia-court-refuses-to-set-aside-sack-order-on-ikpeazu-2/#sthash.BXfhAbur.dpuf