Abia Governorship: Appeal Court reserves judgment, frustrates Sherif's plot to assist Ogah

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Attempts by the Ali Modu-Sherif led factional group of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to scuttle the hearing of the six appeals in the Abia state governorship tussle and to throw its backing behind Dr. Samson Ogah against Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia state was yesterday rebuffed by the Court of Appeal in Abuja.

The Sheriff group which made a surprise appearance at the Appeal Court had sought to represent PDP in the legal tussle despite the fact that the business of the day for the court was hearing of the appeals.

A counsel representing the group, Mr. Olagoke Fakunle (SAN), had attempted to appear for PDP but the presiding judge, Justice Ogunwumiju, expressed surprise at the move and held that since he is not one of the parties on record, he would not be allowed to scuttle the hearing fixed for yesterday.

Fakunle had claimed that he was engaged by PDP through a letter signed by one Mr. Bashir Maidugu who claimed to be Deputy National Legal Adviser of PDP.

In the drama that ensued and which threatened the hearing of the six appeals slated for yesterday, Justice Morenikeji Ogunwumiju turned down the appearance of the Sheriff group.
Justice Morenikeji Ogunwumiju also rejected the bid by Fakunle SAN to displace Ikpeazu SAN on the ground that the appellate court will continue with parties in the court's record.
Justice Ogunwunmiju warned the group not to carry their murky politics to the Appeal court but to limit same to their party secretariat in their own interest.

Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) who stood for PDP, urged the court to void the letter brought by Fakunle on the ground that it was a worthless document since it had no seal of any lawyer.

But justice Ogunwumiju said the court would take judicial notice of the letter. 

Meanwhile, the appellate court has reserved judgment on the appeal by Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, challenging his removal from office by a Federal High Court in Abuja

In the main appeal by governor Ikpeazu, the appellate court was urged to set aside the judgment of the federal high court delivered on June 27 by Justice Okon Abang which removed the governor from office.

Ikpeazu through his counsel, Chief Wole Olanipekun SAN, claimed that the trial court erred in its conclusion by predicating its judgment on the PDP guidelines and tax receipts that were not made by his client but obtained from official quarters 

Olanipekun argued that Ikpeazu had always been a public servant and that it is unimaginable that the tax papers of a public officer would be queried the way the judge did.

He claimed that Justice Abang misinterpreted section 31 of the Electoral Act, on the ground that there was no evidence before the court to the effect that the tax papers submitted by his client were forged or falsified.

Olanipekun further argued that the trial court acted like a magician when it gave interpretation to PDP guideline that was not before it. 

He said it was wrong of the judge to rely on a mere deposition by the 1st respondent, Samson Ogah, to arrive at the final conclusions of his judgment. 

He then urged the court to allow the appeal and set aside the decision of the lower court.

However, counsel to Samson Ogah, Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN), said that the judgment of the lower court was misconstrued by Governor Ikpeazu because the issue of forgery was not before the trial court but that of supply of false information to obtain the nomination of the PDP to stand for the governorship poll in 2015. 

The counsel argued that the appellant did not dispute that the information he swore to before the commissioner for oat and made available to the PDP was forged and that the case of the appellant was compounded when one of his witnesses admitted error in the computation of the tax paid.

He, therefore urged the court to uphold the Federal High Court judgment and to dismiss the appeal for lacking in merit.

The Peoples Democratic Party and INEC did not oppose the appeal of Governor Ikpeazu. 

In another appeal by governor Ikpeazu against the judgment granted Messrs Obasi Uba Ekeagbara and Chukwuemeka Uba, the appellate court was prayed to set aside the judgment on the ground that the originating summons was not signed as required by law.

Olanipekun who argued the case of the governor informed the court that the amended originating summon signed later by a counsel cannot cure the defect on the ground that a defective originating summon cannot be cured by an amendment.

However, opposing the appeal, counsel to Ekeagbara and Chukwu, Dr. Alex Izinyon SAN submitted that the address of Olanipekun on the defective originating summon cannot take the place of evidence before the appellate court.

He insisted that the argument of counsel cannot take the place of evidence before the court.

Izinyon insisted that the amended originating summons contained signature of a counsel, Maxi Ozuaka, and urged the court to dismiss the appeal.
Justice Morenikeji Ogunwumiju, after taking arguments from counsels in the six appeals, reserved judgments and informed the parties that the date for judgments will be communicated to lawyers.

 

Posted on August, 10 2016

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