Abia logjam stays as court rejects Ikpeazu’s request

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sampson-uche-ogahA Federal High Court in Abuja has rejected the request by Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to set aside the enrolled orders on its June 27 judgment on the state’s governorship seat.

Following the June 27 judgement by Justice Okon Abang, an enrolment of the judgment orders was served on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on which basis it relied in issuing Certificate of Return to Dr. Uche Ogah.

Ikpeazu’s lawyer Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) yesterday urged the court to set aside the enrolled orders, arguing that it formed the basis of the confusion created by INEC’s action.

Olanipekun, in his counter-response, accused INEC and Ogah of resorting to self-help.

He argued that there was no justification for presenting the certificate of return to Ogah on June 30 after INEC had received the notice of appeal and the motion for stay of execution on June 28.

He urged the court to set aside the enrolled order of the court issued with respect to the judgment served on INEC, which he said was the foundation of the “purported issuance of the certificate of return” to Ogah.

He also asked the court to quash the certificate of return issued to Ogah by INEC.

He said: “I urge your lordship to set aside the certificate of return purportedly issued by INEC on June 28 and handed over to the plaintiff/respondent on June 30 during the pendency of the processes before the Court of Appeal.”

“Execution of judgment is not automatic as people think. The court is expected to give a time lag to the defendant/judgment debtor,” Olanipekun said.

Justic Abang refused to set aside the enrolled court order, saying Section 19 of the Sheriff and Civil Processes Act, relied on by Olanipekun did not define processes to include the enrolled court order.

Describing Olanipekun’s application for the voiding of the court’s enrolled order as lacking in merit, Justice Abang said the court had the power to enroll its order at any time after judgment had been delivered.

Olanipekun then prayed the court to adjourn the hearing to a later date in his client’s application for stay of proceedings to enable him respond to the reply filed by Ogah’s lawyer, Alex Iziyon (SAN).

Iziyon objected and urged the court to set aside the order of the Abia State High Court in Osisioma restraining the Chief Judge of the state from swearing in Ogah as governor, and reiterate the judgment of the court.

Izinyon argued that by going ahead to obtain such an order from the Abia High Court without bringing it to the attention of Justice Abang on Monday, Ikpeazu had resorted to self-help.

Izinyon asked the court to set aside the Abia State High Court’s order and reiterate the judgment since Ikpeazu’s motion for stay of execution had allegedly achieved essentially what the motion intended to achieve.

“My lord, the question to ask borders on the integrity and the sanctity of this order obtained from the Abia State High Court and the application before this court now.

“They are asking for a date when they have in their pocket a court order which has tied the hands of the plaintiff, preventing him from presenting himself for swearing in, contrary to the order of this court.

“My lord, what is paramount here is that the applicant, Okezie Ikpeazu, went somewhere else to get this order from another high court.

“We submit with respect that the applicant did not bring this to your lordship’s attention. They have not told your lordship that they went somewhere else to obtain the order.

“Now that we have brought this to the attention of the court, our application is that your lordship will undo the act of the applicant by setting aside the order because it was made during the pendency of this application,” Iziyon said.

INEC’s lawyer, Alhassan Umar justified his client’s decision to issue a certificate of return to Ogah despite the appeal filed by Ikpeazu.

He argued that the mere filing of a notice of appeal by Ikpeazu could not operate as stay of proceedings to restrain INEC from executing an order of court duly served on it.

”We do not object to the application for adjournment.

“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 order.

“The certificate bears the date it was issued. We were served with the motion on June 28. But we had issued the certificate upon being served with the order.

“By the issuance I meant it was signed on June 28, but the actual presentation of the certificate was on June 30.

“My lord, we had no difficulty in issuing the certificate because election matters are suis generis (are in class of their own), and where the law intends that an appeal should operate as a stay, it is expressly stated so.”

After listening to parties, Justice Abang elected to hear all pending applications, including Ikpeazu’ motion for stay of execution and Ogah’ motion to set aside the order by the Abia State High Court on Thursday.

Ogah has appealed to his supporters to remain calm and awaiting the outcome of the pending issues before the court.

Ogah, in a statement yesterday by his Special Adviser on Public Communications, Onyekachi Ubani, said: “As we enjoin the great people of Abia to remain calm and peaceful as we expect Justice to be done on the matter, Dr Ogah again reaffirms his belief in the rule of law. (Nation)

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