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Friday 8 July 2016

Confusion as 3 courts hear Ikpeazu, Ogah cases today

Three courts will today hear the cases and ap­plications filed by the contenders for the Abia State governorship seat. The courts are the Owerri Di­vision of the Appeal Court, the Federal High Court, Abuja and another High Court, in Owerri, the Imo State capital.
The appellate court will hear the appeal filed by Dr. Uche Ogah seeking an order to compel the Chief Judge of Abia State to swear him in as the governor of the state based on the Certificate of Return presented to him by the In­dependent National Electoral Commission (INEC).

 The second case comes be­fore Justice Okoh Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, where Governor Okezie Ikpea­zu filed an application for a stay of action on the former’s judge­ment removing him as the state governor.
The third suit is filed by Mr. Friday Nwosu, a People’s Demo­cratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirant, who is praying that he and not Ogah should be sworn in as the governor of the state upon the nullification of Ik­peazu’s election.
Nwosu, who came third in the PDP governorship pri­maries, had earlier filed a suit against Ikpeazu, who, he argued, filed fake tax papers. But when Justice Abang ruled on the mat­ter, he awarded victory to Ogah, who came second in the contest.
Against this backdrop, Nwo­su rushed to the court in Owerri, seeking an order that he should be the beneficiary of Justice Abang’s judgement.
The development has raised tension in Abia as all the actors and their supporters are eager­ly awaiting the outcome of the court proceedings today.
Justice Abang had fixed hearing of Ikepazu’s applica­tion for Thursday, but Follow­ing the extension of the Sallah public holidays from Wednesday to Thursday by the Federal Gov­ernment, the court will now hear the motion today.
A source at the court who sought anonymity said that the matter will be heard today (Fri­day).
Ikpeazu, through his lead counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), had filed an application praying the court not to effect the judgment.
At the sitting of the court on Monday, Justice Abang who was scheduled to hear the mo­tion in court had fixed hearing for July 7, only for the hearing to be shifted to today due to the extension of the public holiday.
The judge had said all issues relating to the grant of stay as in the case of election petition will on the said day be determined whether it is applicable to a pre-election matter as in the instant case.
He urged parties in the mat­ter to file and exchange neces­sary processes before the ad­journed date so as to facilitate early hearing of the motion.
The INEC has said the no­tice of appeal filed by Ikpeazu against the lower court’s judg­ment did not operate as a stay of execution of the judgment.
The electoral body stated this through its lawyer, Mr. Al­hassan Umar, when an applica­tion filed by Ikpeazu seeking a stay of the execution of the judg­ment came up for hearing on Monday.
In a reaction to the alleged tension in the state, the Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to Gov­ernor Ikpeazu, Mr. Enyinnaya Appolos, told The AUTHORI­TY that the state was calm fol­lowing the governor’s constant appeals to the people to remain law abiding.
He said: “Abians have come to terms with the fact that it is only God that enthrones leaders, and that no one can dethrone who God has enthroned. Hav­ing understood this, the state has been calm.”
Meanwhile, a group known as Nzuko Ohaneze Ndi Ukwa-Ngwa has assured Governo Ik­peazu of their total support.
Speaking through an elder statesman, Emmanuel Adaelu, when the group visited the gov­ernor at the Government House, Umuahia, the group expressed sadness at the judgement of the Federal High Court that ordered Ikpeazu to vacate his office.
Elder Adaelu, who empha­sised that the Ukwa-Ngwa eth­nic nationality is not threat­ened by the happenings in the state, expressed the confidence that at the end the governor will emerge victorious.
Governor Ikpeazu, in his response, regretted that despite the fact that the Ukwa-Ngwa ethnic nationality contributes a great deal to the development of the country especially the South East, it has to struggle to attain leadership position after over 55 years of Nigeria’s existence.
He, however, called on the people of Ukwa-Ngwa to re­main law abiding and enjoined them to continuously pray for the peace of the state.
The Nzuko Ohaneze Ndi Ukwa-Ngwa is made up of the nine local government areas of Ngwa extraction in the state, which include Isiala Ngwa South and North, Obingwa, Os­isioma, Ugwunagbo, Ukwa-East and West, Aba North and South.
Ahead of the court proceed­ings, the state police command has declared that it is prepared to contain the situation in the event of “any issue” arising from the decisions of the courts.
The Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Ogbonna Nta, who spoke with The AUTHORITY in Umuahia, warned all parties to respect the rule of law and obey court orders.
He warned that securi­ty agents would deal ruthless­ly with anyone who attempts to breach the peace of the state.

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