8 July 2016
A Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday referred an application filed by Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia for stay of execution of judgment to the Court of Appeal.
The court, presided over by Justice Okon Abang, had sacked Ikpeazu as governor of the state on June 27 over tax evasion.
Abang made a consequential order compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), to issue Dr. Uche Ogah, the petitioner in the case, with the Certificate of Return as the state’s governor.
Abang, held that Friday’s decision hinged on the concession given to the application by Dr Alex Izinyon (SAN), counsel to Dr Uche Ogah.
Following the issuance of the Certificate of Return as affirmation of one duly elected, attempt was made to swear in Ogah as governor of the state.
The attempt to reap the benefit of the judgment was halted by an order of an Abia State High Court.
Ikpeazu had also filed a Notice of Appeal and stay of execution of judgment at the Federal High,Abuja, and Court of Appeal, respectively.
Abang described the process as abuse of court, but held that the position of Ogah’s counsel made it impossible for the court to rule otherwise.
He said all the legal cases cited by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), counsel to Ikpeazu, were not compatible with the issue at hand.
“The ruling of the court on July 4 did not form part of this substantive application.
“All the cases cited by Olanipekun are good laws but they are not applicable in this very matter.
“It is not also true that Order 4 Rule 10 of the Court of Appeal strips this court of jurisdiction as soon as appeal is entered against my decision,’’ he said.
Abang added: “this rule can only be effective if it is an interlocutory injunction and cannot work with a final judgment like this one.
“I will leave all the motions arising from the June 27 judgment to the Court of Appeal to handle.’’
Abang also dismissed a motion filed by Ikpeazu urging the court to compel INEC to withdraw the Certificate of Return from Ogah, saying it lacked merit.
The judge said: “I want to affirm the judgment of the court that returned Ogah as the duly elected governor of Abia State.
“So it an absurdity for the court to overrule an action that resulted from its decision.
“The issuance of the Certificate of Return to Ogah was validly done. It was done when the notice of appeal had not been served both the judgment creditor and INEC,’’ he submitted.
The judge also held that “furtherance to that, the applicant is ordered to pay Ogah the sum of N40, 000 as cost.’’