Why Ikpeazu Can’t Continue To Be Abia Governor – Ezugwu | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Why Ikpeazu Can’t Continue To Be Abia Governor – Ezugwu

Posted: Jul 12, 2016 at 4:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Chief Willy Ezugwu is the Secretary-General of the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) and a chieftain of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). He is also the National Coordinator of South-East Revival Group and the National Secretary, Eastern Unity Forum (EUF). In this interview with journalists, including Austin Oboh, he speaks on the ongoing tussle for the governorship seat of Abia State, amongst other issues. Excerpts:

Your organisation, the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties and the Eastern Unity Forum, had commended the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for issuing Certificate of Return to Uche Ogah in the tussle for the Abia State governorship seat. With the way things stand now, are you satisfied?
Yes, we commended INEC because, for the first time, the commission is obeying court order, but we are not satisfied as Uche Ogah is yet to be sworn in as governor of Abia State. It will interest you to know that as it stands today, Abia State has no governor because Okezie Ikpeazu’s Certificate of Return, which is the basis for which he was sworn in as the state governor, has been withdrawn by the issuing body, the INEC. Without the Certificate of Return from INEC, you can’t be sworn in as Governor or President. It then means that if you don’t have a Certificate of Return, your election is not valid and you can’t be sworn in. It also means that if INEC withdraws your Certificate of Return, you cannot legally hold the office you claim to have been elected to occupy. What I’m saying in effect is that Okezie Ikpeazu is no longer the governor of Abia State.

But the judgement of the Federal High Court in Owerri has dismissed the tax evasion charges against Governor Okezie Ikpeazu?
Do you remember that the individual who filed the matter in the Federal High Court in Owerri is not Uche Ogah? Are you also not aware that the judgement of the Abuja Federal High Court has not been vacated by any court in the land? Justice Abang’s ruling is still valid and, in fact, he affirmed his verdict last Friday by refusing to entertain an application for stay of execution filed by Okezie Ikpeazu and referred the parties to the Court of Appeal. So, until that judgement is vacated and the Certificate of Return issued to Dr. Uche Ogah is withdrawn, Ogah remains the Governor-elect of Abia State and until he is sworn in, Abia has no governor. For the trial judge not to have entertained Ikpeazu’s Stay of Execution application implies that Uche Ogah should be sworn in. I want to remind you of what happened when Peter Obi was illegally impeached by some lawmakers from the Anambra State House of Assembly. Obi stepped aside and went to court to overturn the illegality and was reinstated by the court. Also, Joshua Dariye, as Plateau State governor, was illegally removed but he also stepped aside and went to court. So, you don’t remain on the seat when you have been legally removed by the court and use public funds to fight your political opponent. There is no other way to describe impunity. Ikpeazu is engaged in impunity and all well meaning sons and daughters of Ndigbo, who believe in the rule of law, must ensure that he steps aside and pursue his legal battle against Ogah. It is only in the South-East that this kind of impunity can be tolerated. People are watching us from all over the country, and indeed the whole world, and if we continue to allow this level of impunity, how can we complain when it is coming from other zones? We must not stand aside and watch the ongoing rape of democracy in Abia State.

The Eastern Unity Forum had, in its press conference, threatened to forcefully swear in Ogah as governor, what are you doing in that regard?
I may not tell you what we are doing underground to ensure that Ikpeazu leaves the Abia State government house in line with the judgement of the Federal High Court. But be sure that the Eastern Unity Forum is mobilising aggressively from all parts of the South-East. The calibre of South-Easterners you saw on many television channels during the press conference are not the kind of individuals that will make empty statements. We have our hands on deck and it will surprise those who are behind the impunity in Abia State when we conclude our plans. I want to assure you that our move is legal and legitimate. Abia Sate must be freed from the hands of buccaneers in power who want to stand democratic principles on the head. It will not be allowed.

What is your take on the forthcoming bye-election in Imo and the pending Anambra Central Senatorial election in terms of the readiness of INEC to conduct a free, fair and credible election in the states?
From what INEC has done so far, it would seem that they have done their best. It is now obvious that the inconclusiveness of some of the elections conducted by INEC in recent times were to ensure free, fair and credible electoral process and outcome. The current INEC chairman has proven that the days of electoral impunity is gone. The swiftness with which they obeyed court order removing Ikpeazu and issued Certificate of return to governor-elect, Uche Ogah, is an indication that better days are here with us, as far as elections are concerned. Impunity, like cankerworms, has eaten up our democratic values in the past and INEC is dealing with this disease. So, I believe that the electoral body will maintain the level of successes it has recorded so far. And I would advise all parties involved in the bye-elections not to give room for another inconclusive election by playing by the rules and avoiding INEC harmer. It is now the era of one man one vote, one woman one vote, and one youth one vote. If INEC continues to do well, we’ll keep commending them.