Embattled Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu got a life line on Tuesday, July 26, 2016, as Justice Morenike Ogunwumiju of the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja told him to retain his seat pending the time the determination of appeal filed by him against the judgment of Federal High Court sacking him. The implication is that Governor Okezie will remain in office during the hearing of the case.
Recall that on June 27, 2016 Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High court in Abuja, nullified Ikpeazu’s election on the grounds that he submitted false information regarding his tax clearance certificate. He then ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to issue Samson Ogah who came second in the PDP primaries held in December, 2014 a certificate of return. This prompted Ikpeazu to file an appeal challenging judgments of Justice Okon Abang.
Counsel to Ogah, Dr Alex Izinyon, SAN, at the appeal hearing argued that Ikpeazu was not legally the de facto occupant of the Abia State Government House and he said he would not admit he is the rightful Governor.
Ikpeazu, In his notice of appeal, gave 5 reasons why the Appeal court should affirm his status as the duly elected Governor of Abia State.
According to a report by the Nation, the governor averred that the Federal High Court lacked the power to order him to vacate his seat.
He said the only power, authority and order exercisable by the Federal High Court was to disqualify the candidate from contesting the election, based on Section 31(6) of the Electoral Act 2010.
Ikepazu also faulted the judge when he held that He (governor) did not pay his tax for 2011, 2012 and 2013 at when due when he was a public officer whose tax deduction was under Pay As You Earn (PAYE) scheme.
The governor said tax deductions then were from the source of his monthly salary as calculated by the tax authorities who issued the tax receipts and certificates.
He also said the Abia State Board of Internal Revenue Services, which issued him the tax certificates, had not declared them forged while the trial court did not invite the issuing authorities to give evidence during the trial.
Meanwhile, the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Dr Alex Otti applied to join as an interested party.
Justice Morenike Ogunwumiju fixed August 9, 2016 for the hearing of all applications and the main appeal.
Other appealers include Friday Nwosu, Obasi Ekeagbala, Alex Otti and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Chief Friday Nwosu was a PDP gubernatorial aspirant in the party primaries in 2014.
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