The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has lodged an appeal against the judgment of a Federal High Court in Abuja which sacked Abia Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu for presenting false tax information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
This was just as Ikpeazu approached the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgment. In the notice of appeal filed yesterday, Ikpeazu said the trial court lacked the powers to remove him from office.
The party, in the notice of appeal dated June 28, 2016, expressed dissatisfaction with the judgment of the lower court which removed the governor and ordered Uche Ogah as PDP’s rightful candidate for the governorship election that held in Abia State in April 2015.
Listed as first and fourth respondents are Obasi Uba Ukeagbara, Chukwuemeka Mbah, INEC and Ikpeazu.
In the appeal premised on five grounds, the PDP said the trial court erred in law when it held that it had jurisdiction to hear the suit which was on whether section 24 (f) of the 1999 Constitution was complied with.
“The trial court misdirected itself when it construed the provisions of the PDP constitution to the detriment of the appellant without giving the appellant a chance to be heard and thereby occasioned miscarriage of justice.”
In the particulars of the error, the appellant said Ukeagbara and Mba being “the first and second respondents in the appeal did not pray the trial court to construe the provisions of the PDP constitution.
“No evidence was led that the said Uche Sampson Ogah participated in the 2015 Abia State gubernatorial election, yet, the trial court declared him winner of the said election contrary to the express provisions of section 141 of the Electoral Act,” among other grounds.
Consequently, the appellant urged the Court of Appeal for “an order setting aside the judgment of the Federal High Court of Nigeria in suit No. FHC/ABJ/CS/10862014 delivered on June 27, 2016.”
Meanwhile, in his appeal, Ikpeazu’s lawyer, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo raised five grounds of appeal upon which he asked the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgment and orders of the high court. For instance, the governor said the court lacked the power to order him to vacate the seat of Abia State governor.
In addition, he is contending that 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.
Ikpeazu also faulted the judge when he held that he did not pay his tax for the years 2011, 2012 and 2013, as at when due, when he was a public officer whose tax deduction was under Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) scheme where tax deductions were from the source of his monthly salary by the tax authorities who issued all the tax receipts and certificates.
He also said the Abia State Board of Internal Revenue Services that issued him with the tax certificates had not declared the certificates forged and that the trial court did not invite the issuing authorities to give evidence in the course of the trial.
Ikpeazu said the plaintiff, Dr Samson Ogah was not a staff of the Abia Board of Internal Revenue and did not invite any staff of the board to testify that the tax certificates were forged.
He accused the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang of violating his right to fair hearing by embarking on judicial investigation without giving him (Ikpeazu) the opportunity to address the court on the issue.
The notice of appeal also states: “The learned trial judge erred in law when he held that the appellant presented false information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) by his ingenious 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 governor said the judge had no duty to investigate the contents of documents dumped in the court in the recess of his chambers .
“The decision of the judge which arose from the judicial investigation without opportunity to the appellant violated the appellant’s right to fair hearing,” the governor said.
Ikpeazu also rejected the decision of the high court declaring him unqualified to be nominated at the primary election conducted by his party, because false information was supplied to INEC.
According to him, INEC Form CF001, which the judge relied on, was not one of the grounds of qualification to contest the primary election of the PDP.
He said the judge misconceived the papers presented by the parties and thereby arrived at a wrong conclusion, which occasioned a grave miscarriage of justice.
An Abuja Federal High Court had on Monday ordered Ikpeazu’s removal from office for giving false information in the form submitted to INEC by the PDP, nominating him as its candidate for the April 11, 2015 governorship election.
Justice Abang had in two separate judgments, ordered Ikpeazu to vacate the office of the governor of Abia State. The judge also directed INEC to issue a fresh Certificate of Return to the plaintiff in one of the two suits, Uche Ogah, who was the first runner-up in the governorship primary conducted by the PDP on December 8, 2014.
He had ordered that Ogah’s full entitlements be restored to him as Governor of Abia State.
The judge made the orders after disqualifying Ikpeazu as the candidate of the PDP in the April 11, 2015, governorship election on the basis that he committed perjury by giving false information in the Form 8C001 and documents accompanying it, which he and the PDP submitted nominating him to INEC as the party’s governorship candidate.(Daily Sun)