By Davidson Iriekpen in Lagos and Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Federal High Court yesterday gave reason why Justice Okon Abang ordered Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu to vacate office, saying the case had nothing to do with forgery of tax documents but false tax information
Justice Abang had recently ordered that Ikpeazu should vacate office with immediate effect and a certificate of return issued to Dr. Sampson Uche Ogah who came second in the primary election that produced the governor as the Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP) candidate held in the state.
The court said the order became necessary because the judge found that Ikpeazu provided false tax information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
In a statement by the court’s Chief Registrar, Emmanuel Gakko, on the two different cases against Ikpeazu, the court said the case before Justice Ambrose Allagoa bordered on forgery while the case before Justice Abang providing false information.
He said the case before Justice Allagoa was filed by Sir Friday Nwosu against
the governor and Ogah as defendants, and that the second suit before Justice Abang was filed by Ogah (plaintiff), while Ikpeazu and Nwosu were the defendants.
The chief registrar said the clarification became necessary in view of “misrepresentation of facts as published in some electronic and print media and comments by both legal practitioners and laymen on the correct facts of the cases involv- ing the Abia State Governor and the judgments of Justice Abang and Justice Allagoa.”
The court said the case before Justice Allagoa bordered on alleged forgery or falsification
of tax certificate and receipts for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 by the governor.
In deciding the case, Justice Allagoa held that “a mere nebulous averment is not enough for the purpose of pleading the crime of forgery.”
According to the judge, “forgery is a criminal offence and must be proved, which the plaintiff failed to do.”
The statement added: “The court further held that by the affidavit of the Abia State Director of Taxes testifying that the documents are genuine, the court held that there was presumption of genuineness of the assessment and the
certificate and/or receipts issued to Ikpeazu.
“The court further held that the consequential reliefs have become unnecessary for the court’s consideration.
“It should be noted that the court did not make any consequential orders with regard to the position of the governor other than the allegation of forgery.”
The Chief Registrar said the case before Justice Abang had a different subject-matter, which was that Ikpeazu submitted form CF001 to INEC which was alleged to have contained false information.
“The court held that the
information in Form CF.001 as shown by him (Ikpeazu) in the affidavit accompanied with other documents to INEC are false and has nothing to do with forgery.
“The court therefore made consequential orders under the doctrine of
‘lis pendens’, which disallows any transfer of rights or interest in any subject matter that is being litigated upon during the pendency of litigation in respect of the said subject-matter.
“The court accordingly, declared Ogah as the winner of the PDP primaries and should be issued with Certificate of Return accordingly.”