How Court Sacked Abia Governor

  • For alleged falsification of tax receipts
  • I remain governor, says Ikpeazu

Tobi Soniyi and Alex Enumah in Abuja

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has set aside the election of Dr Okezie Ikpeazu of the governor of Abia State.

The court ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to forthwith issue a Certificate of Return to Samson Ogah as the duly elected governor of Abia.

Justice Okon Abang gave the verdict in a ruling he delivered on a pre-election matter challenging the emergence of Ikpeazu as the flag-bearer of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2015 gubernatorial election in Abia State.

The judge ordered Ikpeazu to vacate office immediately.

Justice Abang said his judgment was based on the Supreme Court decision in the case of Obi vs INEC and Amaechi vs INEC.

The judge held‎: “That to give effect to the judgment of this court, the plaintiff, Dr Samson Ogah the candidtate of the PDP in the 2015 gubernatorial election in Abia, is the person entitled to the certificate of return in the election for the office of governor of Abia State of Nigeria in the election held in April 2015.

“It is hereby ordered that INEC, the third defendant should immediately issue certificate of return to the plaintiff, 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.

“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.

In the over two hour judgment, Abang who held that Ikpeazu was not qualified to contest the 2015 elections, said the submission of tax clearance certificate and income tax receipts by Ikpeazu was unknown to the law.
According to him, the 2011 tax clearance certificate and income tax receipt submitted to INEC before the 2014 PDP primaries contained false information.

“Going by the second defendant’s appointment letter, as General Manager Abia Passenger Integrated Scheme, with effect from July 18, 2011 with the amount payable as salaries and entitlement clearly spelt out.

“Going by the 2nd defendant’s appointment letter, the 2nd defendant would have worked for Abia Passenger Integrated Scheme for five months 12 days.

“The earnings of the 2nd 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 2nd defendant didn’t reflect this figure.”
The judge argued that tax certificate indicated the gross earnings of the 2nd defendant for 2011 to be N1.135 and the income tax was assessed on this figure.

He disclosed further that the date on the tax receipt filed by the 2nd defendant was on a Saturday adding that Saturday, even in Abia was a public holiday.

The judge, while pointing out 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, held in his view that Ikpeazu perjured by lying on oath when he said that he had fulfilled all the requirements to contest the 2015 elections.

Based on these the court ruled that Ikpeazu 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.

Abang said, the plaintiff was the eligible or qualified candidate to contest as the candidate of the PDP for the 2015 election and his name should be forwarded to INEC as the PDP candidate.

He said that second defendant did not win the PDP primaries as he was not eligible or qualified to contest and that it was the plaintiff that won.
The court also awarded N100, 000 costs in favour of the plaintiff.