A Federal High Court in Abuja has sacked Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia state for allegedly submitting false information to his party, the Peoples Democratic Party, ahead of the party’s governorship primary in December 2014.
In his judgement on Monday, June 27, Justice Okon Abang ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately issue a certificate of return to the plaintiff, Uche Ogah, who polled the second highest number of votes in the primary, The Punch reports.
Sahara Reporters is reporting that Justice Okon Abang asked the INEC to cease the certificate of return issued to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu as he was never qualified to run for the party primaries in the PDP as a guber candidate.
According to the report, the judge also ordered the Chief Judge of the state to swear in, Uche Ogah, his opponent in the Decmeber 2014 gubernatorial election in state as the substantive governor of Abia state.
It was gathered that Ikpeazu was ordered to vacate his office over the account of fake tax returns during the PDP primaries.
Justice Abang says Ikpeazu was never qualified to run in the primaries.
Ikpeazu’s problem started after the Nigerian Supreme Court ordered the Federal High Court to retry the case challenging the fraudulent payment of taxes of Governor Ikpeazu before the April 11 governorship election in the state.
It was gathered that some of his opponents in the PDP had approached the Federal High court over the eligibility of Governor Ikpeazu to contest in the primary election conducted for governorship aspirants of the party in the state during the last election in 2015.
Ikpeazu’s opponents had alleged that he was ineligible to contest as he did not pay his taxes of years 2011, 2012 and 2013 as at when due.
According to the group, the taxes he (Ikpeazu) allegedly paid for the three years were paid on the same day. The plaintiff faulted the authenticity of Ikpeazu’s tax clearance certificate and the information contained in his INEC “Form CF100″.
However, in his reaction, Ikpeazu challenged the competence of the Federal High Court Abuja to hear the case but the court overruled his objection.
The Court of Appeal however sided him and ruled that the case ought to have been filed at the Abia state High Court.
Determined to get justice, Ikpeazu’s opponents went ahead to seek redress at the Supreme Court following the Court of Appeal ruling and in a judgment handed down on Friday, January 22, by five Supreme Court justices led by Justice Mohammed Muntaka-Coomassie, the court faulted the decision of the Court of Appeal and affirmed the competence of the Federal High Court Abuja to try the case.
The justices ordered the Federal High Court in Abuja to begin a fresh hearing of a suit challenging the qualification of Ikpeazu, adding that the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria to ensure that the case is heard. Following the Supreme Court order, the Federal High Court in Abuja re-opened the case against Ikpeazu after which, the governor was ordered to immediately vacate his office.