Abia Governorship Tussle: Appeal Court Orders Parties To Maintain Status Quo | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Abia Governorship Tussle: Appeal Court Orders Parties To Maintain Status Quo

Posted: Jul 26, 2016 at 7:10 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

Stephen Ubimago

Lagos – A Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja on Tuesday ordered all parties in the contentious Abia governorship seat to maintain status quo pending its decision on the substantive appeal brought before it by Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, who was sacked as governor by a Federal High Court in Abuja over tax evasion.

While delivering the lead judgment on a motion brought pursuant to the appeal, Justice Morenike Ogunwuniju, leading a five-member panel of justices, ordered that all other motions filed before the court in respect of the matter must wait pending the decision of the Court on the appeal filed by Ikpeazu.

Ikpeazu had approached the Appeal Court to challenge the decision of the Federal High Court, praying it to also order a stay of execution of the decision.

While delivering the court’s ruling, the judge held: “I’m avoiding the use of status quo but what we are saying is that all parties in the matter should remain as they were; everybody must remain as you were before you came into this court this morning until a judgment is reached on the appeal.”

However, counsel to Mr. Uche Ogah, for whom the Federal High Court had given judgment, asked the court to further explain the import of its ruling.

According to Dr. Alex Iziyon, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN) and Ogah’s counsel, the court’s pronouncement on parties to “stay as you were,” could be misinterpreted as a stay of execution on the said judgment of the Abuja Federal High Court.

Justice Ogunwuniju however maintained it would be wrong for any of the parties to misinterpret the court’s pronouncement.

The court thus ruled that the matter be adjourned until Tuesday, August 9, for continuation of hearing in the appeal.

Counsel to Dr. Ikpeazu, Chief Wole Olanikpekun (SAN) responded by informing the court that there was an affidavit and two further affidavits in support of their application, for which the Appeal Court judge ordered that the applicant should within three days from Wednesday, July 27, file its application.

The court also ordered that the respondents have three days, which would run concurrently, to file their reply.

The court also gave the appellant leave to file their reply to the respondent’s reply to their application within three days, and further adjourned the matter to Thursday, August 4, for hearing on the application.

It is recalled that the Federal High Court in Abuja, presided over by Justice Okon Abang, had on June 27, ordered Ikpeazu to vacate his seat as governor of Abia State.

In his ruling, he found that Ikpeazu was guilty of tax evasion.

Abang further ruled that the electoral umpire INEC should issue a certificate of return to Ogah, who had contested the governorship of Ikpeazu over tax evasion.