Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State has filed an appeal against Monday’s judgment of a Federal High Court in Abuja which removed him from office as governor and asked the Appeal Court to set aside the judgment of Justice Okon Abang.
Ikpeazu, in a notice of appeal filed by his lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo, faulted the high court judgment on five grounds, saying that the Federal High Court lacked the power to order him to vacate the seat of Abia State Governor. The Governor argued that “the trial judge erred in law when he ordered as a consequential order that the appellant vacates his office as the Governor of Abia State immediately when there was no jurisdiction in the Federal High Court to remove or vacate the occupier of the office of the governor of a state or order the removal of such officer after the unsuccessful challenge of the result of the election at the Tribunal and swearing in of the appellant as the governor”.
According to him, “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”. Governor Ikepazu also faulted the judgment on the decision that he did not pay his tax for the years 2011, 2012 and 2013, when due, when, according to him, “he was a public officer whose tax deduction was under Pay As You Earn, PAYE, scheme where tax deductions were taken from the source of his monthly salary by the tax authorities who issued all the tax receipts and certificates”.
He further argued that the Abia State Board of Internal Revenue Service that issued him with the tax certificates had not declared the certificates forged. Again, that the trial court did not invite the issuing authorities to give evidence in the course of the trial.
The Governor also faulted the court verdict on the grounds that the plaintiff, Dr. Samson Uchechukwu Ogah “was not a staff of the Abia Board of Internal Revenue and did not call any staff of the board to testify that the tax certificates were forged”. Ikpeazu therefore accused the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang of violating his right to fair hearing by embarking on judicial investigation without giving him the opportunity to address the court on the issue.
“The learned trial judge erred in law when he held that the appellant presented false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission by his igneous meticulous study and investigation of documents filed in courts in the recess of his chambers and thereby violated the right of the appellant to fair hearing”, the notice of appeal noted.
He faulted the Judge on his findings, saying, “the judge had no duty to investigate the contents of documents dumped on the court in the recess of his chambers with a view to finding for the plaintiff”. Meanwhile, the PDP has also rejected the judgment and filed a separate appeal urging the Appeal court to reverse the decision of the lower court.
Also,the National Deputy Treasurer of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council, Dr. Kingsley Chidozie Lawrence has advised Governor Ikpeazu not to allow the court verdict to derail his development plan, urging him to remain focused.
Ogah can’t be governor— Nwosu
Similarly, one of the PDP governorship aspirants who filed a tax forgery suit against Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, Sir Friday Nwosu, has faulted the judgment of the Federal High Court, stressing that he remained the rightful candidate of the party.
Nwosu’s suit which has suffered several delays is still pending before Justice A.I. Alagoa of the Federal High Court, Owerri. Adoption of written addresses by parties has been slated for July 4 and 5, 2016.
Nwosu who spoke in a telephone interview with Vanguard stated that the court erred in law when it declared Ogah as governor when he refused to accept the result of the December 8, 2014 PDP primaries and petitioned the national leadership for a rerun of the exercise. (Vanguard)