Abia Guber Impasse: FG Asks Ikpeazu, Ogah To Await Court Decisions | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Abia Guber Impasse: FG Asks Ikpeazu, Ogah To Await Court Decisions

Ikpeazu & Ogah
Posted: Jul 4, 2016 at 4:31 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

…Chief Judge Denies Absconding From Duty Post


Ben Duru

Umuahia – Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, has advised Samson Uchechukwu Ogah, who Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) issued certificate of return on Thursday as governor of Abia State, and the incumbent governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, to sheathe their swords and await judicial decisions.

The minister said he was yet to proffer any legal opinion on the ruling of Justice Okon Abang last Monday.

A statement by Salihu Othman Isah, Special Adviser to the Justice Minister on Media and Publicity, and made available to Independent denied insinuations that the minister was behind the legal logjam.

Ogah, a People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) member, was supposed to be sworn in on Friday by the chief judge. But a High Court of Abia State stopped the chief judge, president of the Customary Court of Appeal and any other judicial officers from swearing in Ogah as governor.

An Abuja Federal High Court presided over by Justice Okon Abang had on Monday last week sacked Governor Okezie Ikpeazu also of the PDP for tax evasion in a pre-election matter brought against him.

Ogar, who came second in the PDP primaries consequentially, latched on court which directed INEC to issue him with the certificate of return with immediate effect even when Ikpeazu said he provided INEC with a notice of appeal and an injunction for stay of execution.

These developments have created confusion in the state since Thursday.

“The attention of the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has been drawn to the insinuations and crass lies being peddled and disseminated by a cross-section of Nigerians and the various media platforms that the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation is behind the legal logjam over the Abia State governorship seat and wishes to clarify that those canvassing this position have no basis to do so.

“Of particular concern are those who have peddled ill-natured rumours with a view to misinforming our discerning populace that the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and by extension the Federal Government of Nigeria gave directives to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue certificate of return to Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah declaring him governor-elect. He has definitely not taken any action either by spoken words or body language as far as this Abia governorship crisis is concerned”, Isah said in the statement.

According to Isah, “I wish to, therefore, on behalf of my principal declare that these rumours are untrue and a figment of the imagination of those pushing these selfish, shameless and irredeemable lies into public space which only translates to partisanship on the side of its purveyors.”

The statement further stated, “As far as the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation is concerned, the constitutional powers for the legal opinion of his office have not been invoked on this issue. So far, nobody has approached him to proffer any legal opinion to it. As a strong believer in the rule of law, it is his belief that the law should naturally take its course. The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation will not be dragged into this controversy and mind-games being played out by the various legal minds and spin-doctors of both camps at this point.”

He said the parties involved should await the decisions of the courts.

“In fact, we wish to by this statement advise those in the habit of dragging the highly esteemed Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice into knotty issues of this kind even when it is yet to take a position. They should desist from these unwarranted presumptions henceforth,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, Justice Theresa Uzoamaka Uzokwe, chief judge of Abia State, has denied reports that she absconded from her duty post to avoid the swearing in of Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah as governor of the state last week.

The report noted that the chief judge went missing after INEC followed court orders and issued a certificate of return to Ogah.

In a statement issued through Mrs. Vicky Analaba, Acting Chief Registrar of Abia State Judiciary, the chief judge refuted the allegations.

“The attention of the Chief Judge of Abia State, Justice Theresa Uzoamaka Uzokwe, has been drawn to various spurious and mischievous reports alleging that the Honorable Chief Judge had absconded from her duty post on Thursday 30th June 2016, to avoid swearing in Uche Ogah as governor of Abia State.

“Contrary to the allegations of cowardice by mischievous politicians, the Chief Judge, was in her office throughout work time on Thursday, June 30, 2016 from 8:30am till 4:30pm. For the avoidance of doubt, on Thursday, June 30, 2016, the Chief Judge was in her court room performing her lawful duties, including the delivery of four rulings on that date,” the statement noted.

Continuing, the statement said, “The particulars of the ruling in question are: HU/35CM/2015 Francis Akor vs the State; HU/ICM/2016-Johnson Asiegbu vs. Commissioner of Police, HU/42CM/2016-Onyekachi Samuel vs. Commissioner of Police; HU/34CM/2016-Lucky Sampson vs. the State.

“These facts are verifiable and in the records of the court. The various lawyers who appeared in the respective suits listed above are also living witnesses. This press release has become necessary in order to avoid further mischief and to set the records straight.”