Abia: Why Abuja court sacked Ikpeazu
The sacking of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State about a fortnight ago by a Federal High Court Abuja, presided over by Justice Okon Abang was clarified last Friday by the Federal High Court Chief Registrar, Mr. Emmanuel Gakko.
In his clarification on the order by Justice Abang, Gakko said that Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, was sacked because the judge found that he allegedly submitted false tax information to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
According to Gakko, the court held that the case had nothing to do with forgery of tax documents.
In a statement to clarify the issue which has generated diverse opinions and interpretations, the Chief Registrar said that there were two different cases against Ikpeazu.
He said that one of the cases was filed by Sir Friday Nwosu (plaintiff) against Dr. Ikpeazu and Dr. Sampson Uche Ogah as defendants and it was before Justice Ambrose Allagoa.
In the second suit before Justice Abang, Dr. Ogah was the plaintiff while Dr. Ikpeazu and Sir Nwosu were the defendants.
The case before Justice Allagoa bothered on alleged forgery or falsification of tax certificate and receipts for 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 by Dr Ikpeazu.
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 were genuine, the court held that there was presumption of genuineness of the assessment and the certificate and/or receipts issued to Dr. 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 that the case before Justice Abang had a different subject-matter, which is that Dr. Ikpeazu submitted form CF.001 to INEC which were alleged to contain 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 Dr Ogah as the winner of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primaries and should be issued with Certificate of Return accordingly."
The Chief Registrar said the clarification has become 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 involving the Abia State Governor and the Judgment of Hon. Justice Abang and Hon. Justice Allagoa, both of Federal High Courts".