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The Political And Legal Puzzle In Abia

 

Monday Discourse
Happening now in Abia State is a test of the nation’s constitution and her legal system but not one to be handled with levity. Davidson Iriekpen, Shola Oyeyipo and Segun James report
Since it started playing out last week, the political development in Abia State, where Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, ordered that the first runner up in the last Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primary, Uche Ogah be sworn in as the governor of the state, in place of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, has resulted in a lacuna for the state.
To some, the matter amounts to a dereliction of the fundamentals of the rule of law in democratic governance as being exemplified under the current administration, not only because it merely faulted the judgment but because the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was seen to have acted rather curiously in the matter. Yet, some others spoke in favour of the judgment because they thought nothing was amiss since a court of competent jurisdiction gave a judgment that ought to be obeyed.
The events culminating in what happened on Wednesday, June 27, 2016, started when the duo of Obasi Eke and Chukwuemeka Mba, who are PDP members, instituted a case against Ikpeazu on December 22, 2014. They alleged that the governor failed to pay personal income tax promptly as and when due for 2010 and 2011 in line with Section 24(f) of the 1999 Constitution, which states that, “It shall be the duty of every citizen to…declare his income honestly to appropriate and lawful agencies and pay his tax promptly”.
Their prayer was that the PDP and INEC should disqualify Ikpeazu from contesting the governorship election. They contended that Mr. Ikpeazu was not fit and proper, having failed to pay his personal income tax for two years in line with the demands of the Constitution of Nigeria.
They therefore asked the court for a declaration that Ikpeazu, who was a defendant in the suit, having purportedly failed to pay his personal income tax promptly for the years in question and in compliance with the mandatory provisions of the constitution as well as Paragraph 13 of Part IV of the Electoral Guidelines for Primary Elections 2014, was not a fit and proper person to contest the gubernatorial election of Abia State in the 2015 general election, and should be disqualified from contesting the election.
They also sought an order barring the PDP from presenting Ikpeazu as candidate for governor in the 2015 election. Other reliefs sought by the plaintiffs included an order barring INEC from accepting Ikpeazu as the Abia State PDP governorship candidate for the 2015 election. They further requested a consequential order that the candidate at the PDP primary election of December 8, 2014, who polled the second highest number of votes cast at the said election, should be pronounced the rightful candidate of the party for the governorship election.
The Judgment That Undid Abia
In his ruling, Justice Abang was straight to the point when he said Governor Ikpeazu should give way for Ogah. “It is hereby ordered that INEC, the third defendant should immediately issue certificate of return to Dr. Samson Ogah as governor of Abia State in the election held in 2015 and restore to him all the entitlements as the elected governor of Abia.”
Abang’s ruling was premised on several considerations. First, he held that the tax clearance certificate and income tax receipts submitted by Ikpeazu were unknown to the law and made him ineligible to contest the poll and that the 2011 tax clearance certificate and income tax receipt submitted to INEC before the 2014 PDP primaries contained false information.
He agreed that Ikpeazu’s appointment letter as General Manager, Abia Passenger Integrated Scheme on July 18, 2011 spelt out his salary and entitlements and that the governor’s income tax known to be to be N1.14 million, was assessed on that basis.
“Going by the appointment letter, Ikpeazu would have worked for Abia Passenger Integrated Scheme for five months 12 days. The earnings of the second defendant based on the letter of appointment by single calculation in 2011 for five months 12 days is N493 or N546, 669 if not assigned government vehicle. The tax payment submitted by the second defendant didn’t reflect this figure,” the court held.
He also held that the date on the tax receipt filed by the governor was on a Saturday, whereas Saturdays are public holidays. The court argued that Ikpeazu did not file his tax clearance in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and that all payments he made preceding the 2014 primaries were made in one day and not as and when due.
According to Abang, Ikpeazu perjured in the face of the law, when he said he had fulfilled all the requirements to contest the 2015 elections. Hence, the governor was not qualified to be the candidate of the PDP in the primaries of 2014 and was also not qualified to be fielded as the candidate for the 2015 election. That was why he asked INEC to issue a certificate of return to Ogah, who neither won the primaries nor contested the governorship election.
“Dr Okezie Ikpeazu is hereby ordered to vacate office as governor of Abia immediately relying on the decision of the Supreme Court in INEC vs Obi,” Abang held.
INEC in the Picture
There have been outcries after INEC was believed to have ‘hurriedly’ issued the certificate of return to Ogah because not all legal options available to the governor had been explored. But in a statement issued by the Chief Press Secretary to the INEC Chairman, Rotimi Oyekanmi, Ogah received his certificate based on the receipt of a certified true copy of the judgment signed by the FCT High Court Registrar, Mr. Olawale Oladoyin, dated 27th June 2016 and served on INEC.
According to him, Abang specifically ordered INEC, which was the third Defendant in the case “to issue certificate of return to the Plaintiff, Dr. Sampson Uchechukwu Ogah as Governor of Abia State, for the election held on 11th April, 2015 and restore all entitlements to him as the elected Governor of Abia State.  Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu is hereby ordered to vacate office as Governor of Abia State”.
While further justifying INEC’s action, its National Commissioner in charge of the South-east, Ambassador Lawrence Nwuruku said the commission only kowtowed to the lawful order of a court, adding that he could go to jail if he flouted a valid court order. He also stressed that if the court tomorrow orders a reversal of the action, INEC would not hesitate to do as directed.
“The situation is that we are simply obeying the court order. The court said with immediate effect – without wasting of time, we should issue him certificate of return and that is what we have done – to obey the court order. If the court tomorrow issues another order, we would obey the same. By the grace of God, I am the INEC Commissioner in charge of South-east. I’ll do the same thing if the court orders us to do so. If court says we should issue the same certificate to another person. In this case, court ordered us to issue a certificate of return to the person, who won the election and that is Uche Ogah.
“I was the person, who gave the certificate of return to Governor Ikpeazu as he was declared winner. Now, the court has said otherwise. One thing we know is that we are not above the law and we cannot disobey the laws of the land.
“After the court, another person we obey in our land is God and my conscience is my God. Another thing that guides us is the court and we must obey its order with immediate effect. If you were in the court that day, and I urge you the media, to go and study the court ruling very well, it was wonderful; it was direct,” he said.
Ikpeazu Defends Mandate
Naturally, the judgment has elicited disappointment, melodrama, confusion, and a glimmer of hope for Ogah and his team, who are waiting for the actualisation of Abang’s ruling, but first to discard the judgment and opting for further legal options to address the matter was Ikpeazu, who asserted that irrespective of the judgment, he remained the governor of Abia State.
“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 court has conclusively resolved the appeal, the status remains. I am still the governor of Abia State,” Ikpeazu stated in a statement he personally signed.
The Governor explained to the people that as an appointee of the Abia State Government from 2011 to 2014, when he served as the General Manager, Abia State Passengers Integrated Manifest and Safety Scheme (ASPIMSS), and first Deputy General Manager, Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA) before his resignation in October 2014 to contest the governorship election in the state, his taxes were deducted at source. He said when he had a need of his tax clearance in 2014, he applied to the Abia State Board of Internal Revenue, and that it was duly issued with his tax receipts for the period in question.
The Court of Public Opinion
While many are waiting to see how the appellate court determines the matter, lawyers are already engaging one another over the judgment. For instance, in the notice of appeal filed by Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), the governor raised five grounds of appeal upon which he asked the court to set aside the judgment of the High Court. He said the Federal High Court lacked the power to order him to vacate the seat of Abia State governor.
“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,” part of the notice of appeal read.
The governor maintained 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, faulting also the judge when he held that he did not pay his tax for the years 2011, 2012 and 2013 as and when due, when he was a public officer whose tax deduction was under the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) scheme, where tax deductions made from the source of his monthly salaries by the tax authorities, which issued all the tax receipts and certificates.
‘He explained that 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 and that Ogah was not a staff of the Abia Board of Internal Revenue and neither did any staff of the board to testify ‎that the tax certificates were forged.
He therefore accused Justice Abang of violating his right to fair hearing by embarking on judicial investigation without giving him (Ikepazu) 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 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.”
Ikepazu 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 PDP.
Addressing the judgment, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, said “With all due respect to the court, this judgment is wrong, both in law and morality,” adding that “The other point that makes the judgment totally unacceptable is that it is totally against the tenets of democracy and the rule of choice, for courts to be supplanting pubic office holders that have been conferred with a sacred mandate by the people.
“This is why matters relating to elections have been limited to election petitions, so that it is only those who canvassed for the votes of the people that should expect to enjoy their mandate. The courts should not be imposing leaders on the people, to annul their mandate through judgments that have no bearing with and cannot be traced to the votes cast.
“Furthermore, this is a case that has been fought and won, even up to the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court. So if one may ask, where was Mr. Ogah, in all of the time that the governorship election of Abia State was in the tribunal, in the Court of Appeal and in the Supreme Court? Was it today that he got to know of the forged certificate? How will a High Court turn around to annul a mandate already confirmed by the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, the latter being the highest court of the land?
“The worrisome part of this whole drama is the sentiment gaining ground that this may just be the clandestine ploy of the ruling party to entrench a one party state, as it is already being speculated that upon his swearing-in, Mr Ogah will immediately defect to  the ruling APC, citing the present factionalisation between Modu Sheriff and Ahmed Markafi. Surely this cannot help our democracy, and it is gratifying that it is all a matter of speculation and conjecture.
“We must get to a stage when we must give due respect and honour to the wish of the people as expressed during the election. Section 221 of the Constitution gives the electoral mandate to both the political party and the candidate, such that when the people have exercised their vote for a particular candidate as their choice of leader, such must not be removed through the backdoor under the guise of post-election litigation. It is totally unacceptable, as that will become some form of judicial terrorism, for the court to sit over an election conducted over a year ago, to be annulling it, in the name of judicial exercise.”
Also wading into the issue, a constitutional lawyer and former National Secretary, Labour Party, Dr. Kayode Ajulo, in statement titled: ‘Abia State Governorship Matter Arising: Ogah & Co. Might Wittingly Or Unwittingly Risk Treasonable Felony’, said: “Above all, cognisance has to be taken of the nature of the res in this matter, which is the propriety of the election vis-a-vis the eligibility and disqualification of a state governor.
“Our law makes the propriety or otherwise of the judgment of the trial court and Court of Appeal specifically reserved for the Supreme Court, which is the highest court in Nigeria. The Supreme Court therefore has the final say in the evaluation of the two lower courts mentioned above. The incumbent, having lost in the trail court has a right of appeal to the Court of Appeal and then the Supreme Court as well as obtain stay of execution of the judgment pending final determination.
“As it is, Governor Ikpeazu, who is presently the occupier of the seat of Governor of
Abia State by the provisions of the Constitution (as amended) has inherent right to file an appeal, and obtain stay of execution of court judgment to the Court of Appeal and also has a statutory period of grace from the day of the judgment of the Court of Appeal to file his appeal at the Supreme Court,” he said.
According to Ajulo, “Having appealed as expected and obtained the requisite stay of execution of the judgment, any attempt geared towards swearing-in of Ogah as the governor of Abia State under any guise at this stage is not only satanic, it is uncharitable and crystal clear violation of the Constitution. It should also be noted that such attempt or contemplation is without precedent in our jurisdiction on how to determine the seat of a governor in Nigeria.
“Furthermore, any speculation of swearing-in Ogah on the strength of the High Court judgment is not only without precedent, it will only amount to self-help, which will make Ogah and his supporters to be wittingly and or unwittingly committing treasonable felony.”
He said the federal government and the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) must do the needful in ensuring that the law is protected from any violation.
The President, Abia Renaissance Movement, Mr. Godwin Adindu also faulted INEC issuance a certificate of return to Ogah, with a plan to swear-in him in as the governor, describing it as a serious violation of legal procedures and invitation of anarchy to the state. Adindu added: “This is unimaginable given that the incumbent governor has formally filed a notice of appeal and a stay of execution. Nigeria is not a jungle. We are not in an animal kingdom. Let all the extraneous forces bent on causing mayhem and turning Abia into another Syria think twice.”
He posited that Governor Okezie is a peace-loving man and an ardent believer and respecter of the rule of law, saying: “We ask for nothing less and nothing more but that the rule of law must prevail, otherwise, all the parties involved in this grant conspiracy and sabotage against the will of the people of Abia and against the law and the constitution of Nigeria should wait for us. We shall meet at Philipi.”
In another breath, the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) hailed INEC for issuing Ogah the certificate of return as the Abia State governor as ruled by the Federal High Court, which sacked Ikpeazu. The CNPP considered the Abia scenario has part of ways of advancing democracy, noting by that INEC’s action was indicative of non-interference in the electoral and judicial processes in the country by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
Marshalling its pro-Ogah position in a statement by the duo of its National Chairman, Alhaji Balarabe Musa and the Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu, the body further noted that “What has happened in Abia State showed that the era of impunity was behind us.
“There is hope in our democratic future as a country as any country where impunity is the norm never survives. The President Muhammadu Buhari administration and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) must be commended for this singular demonstration of courage to do what is right in line with the court judgment that ordered the issuance of the certificate of return to Dr. Uche Ogah, who came second in the Abia State PDP governorship primary.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) senatorial candidate for Abia North senatorial district at the last election, Nnenna Nma Lancaster-Okoro, who is also a lawyer, argued that whenever a judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction is delivered, it must be adhered to.
“The unfortunate governorship issue in Abia State has deviated from politics to law, taking in the present situation in which Dr. Sampson Uche Ogah has been issued a certificate of return by INEC following a Federal High Court ruling to that effect.  Politics they say can accommodate sentiments but law doesn’t. He (Ogah) therefore remains the pronounced governor of Abia State until another Court of competent jurisdiction says otherwise,” she said.
She, however, noted: “I see this situation as an ongoing process which will finally terminate at the Supreme Court whilst the masses are left to suffer.”
But in the opinion of an expert in constitutional law, Mr. Kola Kolade, who is also the Ekiti State Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, the judge erred in making the order, because according to him, “What the Electoral Act says, particularly in section 140 subsections 1 and 2, is that where there is a problem like this or the court nullifies the election of a governor, the court shall not declare the person with the second highest vote, but order a rerun.”
Kolade said on that basis, the court should not have made that ruling. Besides, he contended that the INEC shouldn’t have taken the action it took in giving Ogah a certificate of return almost immediately as if it has a prior knowledge of the ruling.
He stressed that it is wrong to say that Abia has two governors as being given a certificate of return does not make Ogah a governor automatically. “At best, it only makes him a governor-elect until he is sworn-in. Until then, he is not a governor. So, there are no two governors in Abia as of now, most especially as there is a stay of execution in place.”
Mr. Duoeyi Fiderikumo, another legal practitioner disagreed with this position. “We need to understand the orders that were made by the court. The court annulled the election of Ikpeazu based on the allegation that Ikpeazu submitted false information to his party, the PDP for the governorship primaries.
“The court held that Ikpeazu was guilty of tax evasion and was therefore unqualified to have contested the 2015 governorship election in the first place. Based on that, the ruling was made. Once the INEC issues a certificate of return, Ikpeazu is no longer the governor.”
For Mr. Anthony Ekpete, another legal counsel, the Abia debacle portends an interesting scenario, saying Governor Ikpeazu can only vacate office after a new governor has been sworn in.
“In this case, the court only directed the INEC to issue a certificate of return to Mr. Ogah, which has been complied with rather hastily. Section 143 (1) and (2) of the Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended) gives a 21 day window of opportunity for the incumbent, whose election has been upturned to appeal against the decision of an election tribunal or court.
“INEC should have waited for this statutory period to lapse before issuing the certificate of returns to Mr. Ogah. Again since the Supreme Court is the final determinant of whether or not a person is validly elected as governor, it is my considered opinion that Governor Ikpeazu has taken the right steps in lodging an appeal against the judgment of the Federal High Court at the Court of Appeal. Ogah should wait until the matter is exhausted at the Supreme Court.”
Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), on his part, argued that Ikpeazu was no longer the Governor of Abia State in the eyes of the Law. He said by law, Ikpeazu has been removed by the court and no longer the governor of Abia State.
“The court has removed him as governor but the problem is that there’s a transition period. But the court has removed him as governor and there’s a new governor-elect, who is yet to be sworn-in and that is why I think there’s a major political vacuum. Clearly, the Ikpeazu is no longer the governor by law.
“I don’t know the grounds, which the other order from Abia State was obtained by one of the parties. But I do know that a judgment was given and a certificate of return was issued by INEC in Abuja. If they want to stay that order they have to go to the very court that passed the judgment. It is procedurally wrong to want to arrest that judgment us- ing another court of coordinate jurisdiction. The order of the Federal High Court in Abuja should be obeyed.
“A Notice of Appeal is clearly not a Stay and INEC has broken no Law in issuing Certificate of Return to Ogah. But they should have relied on the prudential principle by cautioning themselves, giving the fact that they have received a Notice of Appeal, which in itself, does not constitute a stay of execution of the order of the court. However INEC has broken no law by issuing the certificate of return to Ogah,”Agbakoba said.
Another Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Femi Falana also stated that INEC had done the right thing by obeying the order of the Federal High Court.
“Federal High Court ordered that Uche Ogah be issued with Certificate of Return and should be sworn in as governor of Abia State. INEC complied with the order. The order exparte issued by a judge in Abia State High Court is illegal and contemptuous. The Abia State High Court cannot sit on appeal over the order of the Federal High Court as it is a court of concurrent jurisdiction,” Falana stated.
But in his reaction, the President of Nigeria Bar Association, Austin Aleghe, said while he was not fully briefed on the issue, the position of the law is that when a stay of execution and a notice of appeal has been filed, it is incumbent on all parties to stay action to avoid a situation where one’s interest will be rendered nugatory.
Desecrating a Standard Practice 
For the people Abia State in particular and Nigerians in general, the current situation in the Umuahia is a cause for concern. While it is a trite principle of law and indeed of public policy that if there is a judgment against an occupant of an elective position invalidating his election, he remains in office until he has exhausted his right of appeal, which terminates at the Supreme Court, it is hard to comprehend why the haste to get Governor Okezie Ikpeazu out of office at all cost.
What all lawyers have always known to be the sacred position of the law is that once a party, who has lost a case has filed an appeal and at the same time filed an application for a stay of execution of the judgment, that judgment cannot be enforced until his application has been decided one way or the other.
But despite the fact that Ikpeazu has filed and served a notice of appeal against the decision of Justice Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja, which invalidated his election as governor, as well as a motion for stay of execution – all served on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the commission still went ahead to issue a certificate of return to Ogah.
Abang, while sacking Ikpeazu on Monday, June 27, 2016, from office, said the governor did not possess the requisite qualification to contest the election as governor, in that he did not furnish credible evidence of payment of tax, to the Abia State Government. The judge, who predicated his judgment on section 24 (1) (f) of the 1999 Constitution and the Electoral Act, said the governor did not therefore qualify to contest the election ab initio and that PDP was wrong to have presented him as a candidate.
On these grounds, he consequently directed INEC to issue a certificate of return to the plaintiff, Ogah, who came second in the PDP governorship primary election. How the judge arrived at this judgment is still shocking to both legal and political pundits.
The 1999 Constitution clearly defines the qualifications for candidates seeking the office of governor. Section 177 stipulates only four requirements or conditions for eligibility to the office of governor: Citizenship of Nigeria, attainment of 35 years of age, membership/sponsorship of a political party and education up to school certificate level or its equivalent.
Section 182 (1) also stipulates as follows: Dual citizenship; two previous terms in office; a person adjudged to be a lunatic or of unsound mind; conviction by court or tribunal for death or an offence involving dishonesty or fraud; conviction within ten years of contest for dishonesty or contravention of the Code of Conduct; failure to retire from public service; membership of a secret society; indictment for embezzlement or fraud; or has presented a forged certificate to INEC.
In respect to forged certificate, it is expected that the alleged forgery must have been authenticated by the relevant hand writing analysis experts of the Nigeria Police Force and must be shown to have been masterminded by the governor himself.
A careful cursory look at the two sections of the Constitution and the Electoral Act shows non-payment of tax at all or as and when due is not one of events that could disqualify a candidate for the office of governor or public office. An examination of the nomination forms for all elective offices in Nigeria including for governorship shows clearly that payment of tax is not mentioned and tax receipts or tax clearance certificates are not one of the documents required to be included in the form.
Consequent upon this, the next question to ask is: Can the issue of payment or non-payment of tax invalidate an otherwise valid election or can the election of a governor be invalidated on the basis of contents of a document, which is not even required by the Constitution or the Electoral Act in the first place?
First, the consequences of a failure, by any public officer, to pay tax are well articulated in the various tax statutes. Second, Ogah claimed that his suit was brought under the provisions of Section 31 of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended). The totality of that section is that candidates should submit nomination forms, affidavits in support and the documents which demonstrate that the candidate meets the four requirements set out under Section 177 of the Constitution and in the nomination form of which a tax document obviously is not one.
An interested person may apply for a CTC of such documents and if he believes that any information in the documents is false, such person can go to court for a declaration that the information is false and if he succeeds, the candidate is disqualified from contesting the election.
The question which arises thereof is: can any other document other than those in proof of the eligibility requirements set out in Section 177 of the Constitution be the basis for such disqualification? Does it mean that if in putting together his nomination form, affidavit and the documents required by law, a candidate inadvertently includes his grocery bill or his electricity bill he is thereby disqualified from standing election if any of such bills contains false information or incorrect entries?
Section 31(5) is very clear and unambiguous, it relates to “information given by a candidate in the affidavit or any document” submitted by him. Thus, the alleged false entry or information in such document or affidavit must be one given by the candidate himself and not that given by another person contained in a document submitted by him. Why would a candidate have his election invalidated because of a false statement or entry in a document given to him and submitted by him when he was not aware or responsible for any error the document may contain?
An analogy is appropriate. If a person requires his bank statement for submission to an embassy for visa, he merely goes to his bank, collects the request form, fills his name, account number and signs it. When he hands it over to the bank official, his role is complete. The bank will on their own generate the figures, compute the entries, produce it, print the statement, stamp and sign it and hand it over to the person.
Assuming the customer was contesting for governorship election and either by error or in the mistaken belief that his account Statement is one of the documents to be submitted to INEC, includes it in his nomination form, is cleared to contest election, wins, goes through the challenge of his election victory at the tribunal, Court of Appeal and Supreme Court and wins, should his election/victory be invalidated simply because it was subsequently discovered that some entries in the account statement are incorrect or “false”?
Another question the controversy has thrown up is if Ogah was asked to be sworn in by the court. Many analysts have argued that the court did not give a declarative order for him to be sworn in as governor but for a certificate of return to be issued to him by INEC. In that context, those in Ikpeazu’s camp feel that the order of interim injunction obtained by the governor restraining the Chief Judge of the state or any other judicial officer from swearing in Ogah stands alone and is unimpeachable.
They contended that the judge made several orders which are conditions precedent before a certificate of return could be issued to Ogah but none of those conditions have been fulfilled as yet and so the purported issuance of said certificate is a complete nullity.
For instance, they argued that the judge’s sixth order was for PDP to submit the name of Ogah to INEC as their candidate for the 2015 general elections. The question of the validity of such an order in 2016 after the election in April 2015, they concluded, PDP has not yet forwarded Ogah’s name to INEC, so how could a certificate of return be issued to him contrary to the said order of Justice Abang?
Many analysts are of the view that if the judge is leveraging on the Supreme Court decision in Amaechi’s case, whereby Celestine Omehia was asked to surrender his mandate to Rotimi Amaechi, as governor of Rivers State, he got it all wrong.
To them, the difference in the two cases is that Amaechi won the PDP governorship primary fair and square, unlike in this case, where Ogar came second, behind Ikpeazu. So, Ogar was not the choice of the party and he was not the choice of the people of Abia State and so, he cannot be the choice of the court, against the wish of Abia people. Perhaps, in no time, the appellate court will correct this judicial anomaly and restore normalcy to Abia State’s political firmament.    ThisDay

One thought on “The Political And Legal Puzzle In Abia

  1. Reblogged this on bomoalbertoguara and commented:
    The resort to self help in this instance by the defeated candidate immediately after the judgement leads to only one conclusion, there is a meeting of minds between him and the Independent National Electoral Commission. Knowing that the respondent will definitely avail himself of the two upper courts to right any perceived wrong in the judgement is enough reason to tarry a while. Besides there is enough procedural errors to warrant appeal. Why didn’t the trial judge request for input from the tax authority in Abia state to authenticate it’s document. For that matter, why didn’t the governor ‘s call the tax authority as a material witness? Why didn’t they call for hand writing experts to authenticate the documents? So many gaps in the trial that allows for appellation by the governor. Thankfully, the AGF has asked that both parties be patient until all processes are exhausted, meaning the Supreme Court has the final say. Then effect would be given to the judgement of the FEDERAL high court, assuming it remains this way. If otherwise, Dr ikpeazu remains governor. Why give complexity to a simple and straight forward issue beats the imagination. It’s not Nigerian, if it is not made complex, I guess.

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