Owerri court absolves Ikpeazu of tax evasion, rules he’s duly qualified to be elected governor Osisioma court extends stay of execution order
Tobi Soniyi and Alex Enumah in Abuja, Amby Uneze in Owerri and Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
Justice Okong Abang of a Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday held that the Certificate of Return issued to Samson Ogah by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was issued in compliance with his judgment.
Justice Abang, in two separate rulings he delivered yesterday, dismissed the application by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seeking for the stay of execution of his judgment which ordered Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu to vacate office on account of giving false tax information.
The judge, who dismissed the application for stay of action on the judgment of the court saying the application constituted an abuse of court process because the PDP filed two motions on the same subject matter.
He said though, the PDP had sought to withdraw the earlier application it filed on June 28, 2016, but noted that issues had already been joined by Ogah’s counsel, Dr. Alex Iziyon (SAN) via a counter affidavit.
The court held that there was nothing before the court to stay as the judgment had already been executed by the electoral body.
“Judgment of the court had already been executed by the issuance of the Certificate of Return in favour of Dr. Samson Ogah, therefore there is nothing to be stayed”.
Justice Abang further held that there was no evidence before the court that the Certificate of Return was issued to Ogah before service of the notice of appeal was served on INEC.
“INEC itself said so that the certificate of return was issued before service of the motion was done. INEC lawfully issued the certificate of return in compliance with the judgment of the court.
“The application for stay of execution of the judgment of this court is hereby dismissed for abuse of court processes, the Applicant is to pay the sum of N40,000 as cost”, the Judge held.
Meanwhile, the court refused to set aside the interlocutory injunction restraining the Chief Judge of Abia State and other judicial officials from administering the oath of office on Ogah and also refused to entertain Ikpeazu’s application for a stay of execution of the court judgment given in Ogah’s favour.
In the ruling of the court in three motions filed by Ikpeazu and Ogah, Justice Abang held that the federal high court has the jurisdiction to hear the motion for stay of execution of its own judgment, adding that the court in the instance case refused to take it because it would be presumed it had jumped into the arena as Izinyon, representing Ogah had conceded to the submission by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), that the court lacked the jurisdiction.
Abang disagreed with Olanipekun’s submission that the court should hands off all matters once an appeal has been entered. He said that a motion for a stay of court judgment which was final decision must be taken by the trial court, saying that it was wrong for Ikpeazu to have filed stay of execution at the Court of Appeal without first filing such an application at the trial court.
On the interim injunctive order issued by the Abia State High Court that restrained the swearing-in of Ogah, Justice Abang said “it is an absurd for a court that is not seized of the matter to have issued order obstructing the judgment beneficiary.”
The judge noted that the judgment of the Abia State High court was capable of frustrating the decision of the court.
He said the order has created confusion and stalemate in Abia State.
However, Justice Abang stated that since the matter had gone to the Court of Appeal it would be better for the appellate court to resolve the issue.
Counsel to Ikpeazu, Wole Olanipekun in his argument, informed the court that application has been entered and records of application transmitted with appeal number given.
He also informed the court that there is a motion of stay of execution on the matter and urged the court to hands off the case.
Citing various cases of point of law, to support his position that once an appeal has been made the lower court no longer has jurisdiction over the matter, Olanipekun urged the court to transmit the application of stay of execution to the court of appeal.
According to him, it would amount to judicial rascality to continue with the case, as the court has no jurisdiction on any issue place before it.
Responding, Izyon while conceding to the position of the appellant that once a matter has gone to the appeal court the lower court no longer has jurisdiction urged the court to rule on the other application seeking to set aside the judgment of the Abia State High Court which he argued was not covered by the appeal. He said the only area he is disagreeing with the counsel is the part heard application argued on the 4th of july.
He therefore urged the court to set aside the judgment made by Abia State High Court.
Izyon, argued that the court has jurisdiction to entertain the matter since it borders on the sanctity of the court, adding that the court cannot shut its eyes on issues bordering on abuse of court processes. He also said the court has jurisdiction to protect its own judgment from been ridiculed.
Court affirms Ikpeazu’s election, absolves him of tax evasion…
Respite came the way of Ikpeazu yesterday in one of the pre-election suits seeking to remove him as governor as a Federal High Court in Owerri, dismissed a suit filed by Mr. Friday Nwosu alleging that Ikpeazu had submitted forged tax documents
Nwosu, who was one of the aspirants that contested the primary election for the governorship flag bearer of PDP placed fifth but later went to court to challenge the eligibility of Ikpeazu, who won the primary election.
Other respondents joined in the matter were Dr Uche Ogah, PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
But in his judgment, Justice A.I Allagoa said that the plaintiff was unable to prove that the tax documents submitted by Ikpeazu were forged.
He therefore dismissed the case and affirmed that Ikpeazu was duly qualified to be elected as Abia governor.
The case filed by Nwosu on March 2, 2015 was the first of the two suits seeking to remove Ikpeazu governor on allegations of fake tax papers.
The second suit filed by Ogah on April 20, 2015 was also based on the same ground of improper tax papers.
Meanwhile Abia State High court sitting in Osisioma yesterday extended the order it gave on June 30, 2016 stopping the Chief Judge of Abia, President of Abia State Customary Court of Appeal or any other judicial officers from swearing in Uche Ogah as governor based on the order given by Justice Okon Abang of Abuja high court.
In granting the motion filed by Ikpeazu seeking extension of the order, Justice C.H Ahuchaogu extended the restraining order to July 18, 2016.