Enyinnaya Appolos, chief press secretary, to Okezie Ikpeazu, governor of Abia state, says the governor has filed a notice of appeal and application for stay of execution at the court of appeal in Abuja against the ruling of Justice Okon Abang of the federal high court ordering his removal from office.
In a notice of appeal filed by Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), Ikpeazu raised five grounds of appeal upon which he asked the court to set aside the judgment and orders of the high court.
He argued that the federal high court lacked the power to order him to vacate the seat.
“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,” reads the notice of appeal.
The governor 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 also said 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.
He said that the plaintiff, Samson Uchechukwu 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.
Ikpeazu accused Justice 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 ingenuous 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 that 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.
“The decision of the judge which arose from the judicial investigation without opportunity to the appellant violated the appellant’s right to fair hearing,” he said.
Ikepazu also rejected the decision of the high court declaring him unqualified to be nominated as 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.
Meanwhile, the governor’s party, the PDP, has also rejected the judgment and filed a separate appeal.
The party said that 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.
It said: “The honourable 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 1st and 2nd 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 elections yet the trial court declared him as winner of the said elections contrary to the express provisions of section 141 of the Electoral Act.”
The PDP 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 the 27th day of June, 2016.”
Justice Okon Abang 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 governorship election.
On Monday, the federal high court deemed him unqualified to have been elected governor and declared that Uche Ogah, who came second at the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primary, be declared winner instead.
In the suit, Ogah had contended that the governor evaded tax prior to his election, and as such was unqualified to hold an elective office.
The judge upheld the argument, ordering the removal of Ikpeazu for submitting false information to the PDP in the course of the party’s primary election.
However, Ikpeazu vowed to appeal the judgement, telling his supporters not to panic because he “remains the governor of the state according to law”.
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