Abia Today 6th Edition

Below is the 6th edition of ‘Abia Today’ by Mr Onyema Courage.

6th edition titled: Ikpeazu, Ogah, Otti or Nwosu? and the May 12th Indebt Analysis – by Onyema Courage

Read below and drop your comments:


Lets take it back to the 8th of December 2014 when governor Okezie Ikpeazu emerged winner of the PDP gubernatorial primaries. All the other contenders were not happy as no one expected them to rejoice over their defeat.

While some of the contenders walked away and continued with their lives, Barrister F.N Nwosu and Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah went on to accuse the leaders of Abia State PDP for thwarting the result of the primaries.

The first to strike Ikpeazu with a law suit concerning his Tax Papers was Barrister F.N Nwosu who by this has been alleged by many to have rubbished his career in the state politics as far as PDP is concerned.

Nwosu filed a forgery case against Ikpeazu seeking for the disqualification of the seating governor based on his tax papers which he claimed were forged. Nwosu’s suit against Ikpeazu is ‘self centered’ as he believes he’ll be sworn in as governor if Ikpeazu is disqualified, resting his argument on the fact that Ogah and other fellow contenders cannot benefit from a process they declared illegal and walked away from.

He also said that it was only him and Ikpeazu that signed the result of the primaries, so by law, it is only him and Ikpeazu that contested for the PDP gubernatorial primaries.

Dr. Uche Ogah became the second who’s ‘self’ went before the ‘state’ as he took up the courage to file a suit against Ikpeazu seeking for the disqualification of the governor for presenting false information contained in his tax papers under oath.

Ogah’s suit culminated when Justice Okon Abang on June 27, 2016 ordered that Ikpeazu should vacate the office and that INEC should issue certificate of Return to Dr. Uche Ogah and he should be sworn in by the Chief Judge of Abia State. And this was exactly what INEC did in less than 48hours after this judgement was read.

Okon Abang’s decision raised a deadly alarm in the state, causing numerous public protests and private drama.

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The tension was very high. And the Ngwa race felt agitated as the power they’ve always longed for was almost being robbed from them.

When Ogah arrived Umuahia with his entourage from Abuja, the city was already on fire. Abia State Chief Judge had gone underground scared of loosing her life as well as other judiciary officers that could sworn in Ogah into power. That was the extent of the tremendous impact Abang’s decision left on the state. Disunited the state and broke the populace into units.

Finally the matter went to the Appeal Court on Ikpeazu’s watch as the governor pleaded for a proper look at the Abangs ‘Ghana must Go’ inspired judgment. On 18th August 2016, the appeal court in Abuja declared Ikpeazu winner and reinstated him as the executive governor of Abia State.

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The panel, which comprised Justices Helen Ogunwumiju, Abubakar Datti Yahaya, Philomina Ekpe, Ibrahim Shatta Bdliya and Saidu Tanko Hussaini, set aside the judgment delivered by Justice Okon Abang in its entirety.

The court held that the originating summons which led to the judgment that removed Ikpeazu was not properly constituted, and as such, the lower court lacked jurisdiction to hear it, and consequently, any decision that flowed from it was null and void.

Aside from not signing the originating summons, the court held that the suit filed by Dr. Samson Ogah did not disclose any cause of action because it was filed even before the appellant (Ikpeazu) submitted his documents to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

Justice Shatta agreed with the counsel to the governor, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) that it was not the duty of the court to begin to search for the signatory to the originating summons to authenticate it as required by law.

The court also held that although the originating summons was later amended, an amended summons has no capacity to cure a defective and incurably bad originating summons being the foundation of the suit.

According to the appellate court, “the law has laid down principles by which a case can be instituted, but on the motion which led to this appeal, three people indicated themselves as lawyers and signed the document while the law states that only an identifiable legal practitioner can do so.”

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The court ruled that it was not its business to embark on a voyage of helping a litigant decide who filed his case, and by so doing, the lower court erred in deciding for the litigants.

In another pronouncement by Justice Ogunwumiju, the appellate court held that Justice Abang raped democracy in his order that the INEC should issue a certificate of return to Ogah when there was no evidence of forgery or criminality against Ikpeazu.

According to the court, the judgment of Justice Abang was grossly erroneous because it was based on inadequacy of tax receipt that cannot be visited on the appellant.

“After reading through the judgment several times, I was amazed at how the trial judge arrived at his conclusion of perjury against the appellant when there was no evidence of forgery. To say the least, his findings are ridiculous.

“The judge must have sat in his chamber, unilaterally assessed and computed the tax of the appellant and came to the conclusion that he did not pay the required tax. But let me say that courts are not allowed to speculate as the trial judge has done in the instant case.

“In another breath, the trial judge spoke from both sides of his mouth when in one breath, he claimed that he based his findings on supply of false information and in another breadth, he came to the conclusion that the appellant in this matter committed perjury, even when there was no allegation of forgery and no allegation that he did not pay tax.”

The Appeal Court also held that the Federal High Court judge turned the head of the law upside down in his conclusion that it was the appellant that should bear the burden of proof on the allegation made by Ogah.

“With respect, we disagree with him in this conclusion because it is the person that makes an allegation of falsehood that must prove it,” the court said.

“From whatever angle one looks at the judgment of the trial judge, the decision of his court was grossly erroneous. The inadequacies of the tax receipt cannot be visited on Ikpeazu who scored the highest votes in the 2015 governorship election as doing so will amount to a rape of democracy.”

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Yet, the case was moved to the supreme court by Uche Ogah. The Supreme Court has reserved ruling on applications relating to the Abia State governorship tussle for May 12.

A five-member panel of the apex court presided over by the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, gave the date after hearing arguments from counsel on the matter.

Abians called out May 2017 as a month that can either make or mar the state. The citizens of the state still maintain their stands in factions behind their prospective candidates. Though the governor has been found delivering great projects in the state, he has still suffered set backs and numerous oppositions all because of this active suit in court. May 12, the day Abians decisions may or may not be tampered with.

But as it stands, governor Ikpeazu seem to have a larger chance of winning this tussle as compared to his contenders as tax payment holds no grounds as a qualification needed to be elected a governor that’s if he’s found to be guilty as charged. This I don’t still see coming.

Section 177 of the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has provided all the qualifications one must undergo to be a Governor of a state and which taxation and it’s payment is not among.

177. A person shall be qualified for election to the office of Governor of a State if

(a) he is a citizen of Nigeria by birth;
(b) he has attained the age of thirty-five years;
(c) he is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party; and
(d) he has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent.

Yet I wonder why this case has lingered for years. Maybe there are other count charges against the governor which are yet to surface. But I don’t see governor Ikpeazu being bent on May 12th.

Nevertheless, one can’t possibly say who will be Abia States governor on May 12th 2017.

Ikpeazu? or Ogah, Otti? or Nwosu?

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