Federal High Court, Ikpeazu and Tax Evasion: Matters Arising! – Ishola Adebayo

June 29, 2016

Barely three months after the Supreme Court affirmed his election as Abia State governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu has been kicked out by the Federal High Court in Abuja on Monday. The Court ordered him to vacate office with immediate effect on the basis that he committed perjury by giving false information in the Form 8C001 and documents accompanying it, which he and the PDP submitted nominating him to INEC as the party’s governorship candidate.

In the judgment, Justice Okon Abang ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a certificate of return to the plaintiff, Uche Ogah, who scored second highest number of votes during the PDP primary.

Similarly, one of the PDP governorship aspirants who filed a tax forgery suit against Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu, Sir Friday Nwosu, has faulted the judgment of the Federal High Court, stressing that he remained the rightful candidate of the party and that Dr. Samson Uchechukwu Ogah can’t be the governor.

Meanwhile, Ikpeazu has filed an appeal against the Monday’s judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja which removed him from ‎office as governor and asked the Appeal Court to set aside the judgment of Justice Okon Abang.

The Governor, in a notice of appeal filed by Chief Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), raised five grounds of appeal upon which he asked the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgment and orders of the high court. Ikpeazu said that the Federal High Court lacked the power to order him to vacate his seat as Abia State Governor.

The notice of appeal reads:

The trial judge erred in law when he ordered as a consequential order that the appellant vacates his office‎ as the Governor of Abia state immediately when there was no jurisdiction in the Federal High Court to remove, vacate the occupier of the office of the governor of a state or order the removal of such officer after the unsuccessful challenge of the result of the election at the Tribunal and swearing in of the appellant as the governor.

The governor said that the only power, authority and order exercisable by the Federal High Court was to disqualify the candidate from contesting the election based on section 31(6) of the Electoral Act 2010.

Ikepazu also faulted the judge when he held that he did not pay his tax for 2011, 2012 and 2013 at when due when he was a public officer whose tax deduction was under Pay As You Earn (PAYE) scheme where tax deductions were made from the source of his monthly salary by the tax authorities, which issued all the tax receipts and certificates.

He also said the Abia State Board of Internal Revenue Services that issued him with the tax certificates had not declared the certificates forged and that the trial court did not invite the issuing authorities to give evidence in the course of the trial.

Ikpeazu said the plaintiff, Dr. Samson Uchechukwu Ogah, was not a staff of the Abia State Board of Internal Revenue and did not call any staff of the board to testify ‎that the tax certificates were forged. He accused the trial judge, Justice Okon Abang, of violating his right to fair hearing by embarking on judicial investigation without giving him (Ikepazu) the opportunity to address the court on the issue.

Going by these political imbroglios arising from Abia State, one may pray that the Judiciary and INEC get it right before God’s Own State (Abia) is set on political fire.