Court to Rule on Otti’s Application to Join Appeal on Abia Governorship Tussle

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Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal will today deliver a ruling on an  application by the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), in Abia State, Mr. Alex Otti, seeking to join as an interested party in the appeal challenging the judgment of a Federal High Court which removed Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu as governor of the state.

Otti, a former Group Managing Director of Diamond Bank Plc,  had through his counsel, Mr. Patrick Ikweto, SAN applied to be joined in the legal tussle between the incumbent governor Ikpeazu and another PDP member, Samson Udechukwu Ogah, on the grounds that he had vested interest in the governorship tussle.

He had contested and lost to Ikpeazu at the last governorship election and also lost the petition he filed to challenge the declaration of Ikpeazu as the duly elected governor of Abia State.

At the trial before the Federal High Court, Otti had applied to be joined but his request was turned down by Justice Okon Abang on the ground that the matter before him was between two members of the PDP and that Otti had no interest to protect there prompting him to approach the Court of Appeal to ventilate his grievances.

At the hearing of the application yesterday, his counsel, Ikweato, urged the appellate court to allow him join in the legal tussle on the grounds that as a governorship candidate, he would be affected by the final outcome of the legal tussle.

But Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) who stood for Ikpeazu and Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN), who represented Ogah, vehemently opposed the application of Otti to be made a party.
The two senior lawyers argued that the matter before the Federal High Court and now before the Court of Appeal was an affair between two members of the PDP struggling for nomination and that Otti, being a non-member of PDP had no interest to protect.

They urged the appellate court to refuse the application.
Ikpeazu had filed an appeal against the judgment of the Federal High Court which ousted him from office on the ground that he submitted falsified documents to secure PDP nomination in the 2015 governorship election.

The governor claimed that the Federal High Court erred in law by not evaluating the evidence before him and not giving him fair hearing in the alleged falsified documents before arriving at its unjust and unwarranted conclusion that he should be removed from office.
The substantive matter has been adjourned till August 9.