Despite Monday’s award of a certificate of returns to Uche Ogah, Okezie Ikpeazu — the man who was “disqualified” from office by an Abuja-based federal high court — says there should be no confusion about who is governor of the state.
Speaking through Enyinnaya Appolos, his media aide, after Ogah received a certificate of return from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Ikpeazu urged his supporters to remain calm, saying: “I am still the governor of Abia state.”
“I have received with concern, report of the purported issuance of Certificate of Return to Mr. Uche Ogah by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), as governor of Abia State, despite the pendency of a notice of appeal and motion for stay of the execution of the orders made by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja,” read the statement.
“Our laws are clear on this matter. No one may be issued with a certificate of return let alone be sworn in as governor, when there is a subsisting appeal and application for stay.
“I want to appeal to Abians to remain calm and law abiding in the face of this provocation. Unless and until the appellant courts have conclusively resolved the appeal, the status quo remains; I am still the Governor of Abia State.”
Earlier on Wednesday, Ikpeazu had filed an appeal against Monday’s judgment. In a notice of appeal filed by Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), he raised five grounds of appeal upon which he asked the court of appeal to set aside the judgment and orders of the high court.
The notice of appeal reads: “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, 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.”
He said 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.
He also faulted the judge when he held that he did not pay his tax for the years 2011, 2012 and 2013, 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 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.
He argued that 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, 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 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 by his ingenous 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.”
Similarly, his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), also rejected the judgment and filed a separate appeal.
ABIA: I am still the governor, Ikpeazu tells Ogah
Reviewed by Link Naija