The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal has dismissed the second appeal arising from two judgments of the Federal High Court, Abuja which on June 27 removed Okezie Ikpeazu as Governor of Abia State.
The appeal dismissed by the appeal court on Thursday was filed by a governorship aspirant in Abia State, Mr. Friday Nwosu, who participated in the Peoples Democratic Party’s December 8, 2014 primary which was won by Ikpeazu and in which Uche Ogah ended as first runner up.
He contended in his appeal that he be declared the validly elected Governor of Abia State on the basis that the Federal High Court had rightly removed Ikpeazu, and that Ogah who was ordered to be sworn in as Governor, had earlier rejected and repudiated the outcome of the primary.
The Justice Helen Ogunwumiju-led five-man panel of the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal for lacking in merit.
Justice Tanko Hussaini, who held that though the appellant had locus standi to appeal against the judgment of the Federal High Court, his contention that Ogah could not be a beneficiary of the PDP’s primary held on December 8, 2014 having “rejected and repudiated” its outcome had no legal basis.
Justice Hussaini held that the appellant misapplied the decided authorities on doctrine of waiver and estoppel upon which his (appelllant’s) appeal was predicated.
The panel unanimously agreed that even though Ogah protested against the outcome of the primary, it did not rob him of his legal right under section 87(a) of the Electoral to express his grievances against Ikpeazu’s nomination as the PDP’s governorship candidate in the April 11, 2015 election in the state.
It also held that contrary to Nwosu’s contention, there was evidence that Ogah signed the appeal.
The Court of Appeal also held that Nwosu’s prayers that he be issued fresh certificate of return and sworn in by the Chief Judge of Abia State as the Governor was incompetent as he did not seek the mandatory leave of the appeal court to ask for reliefs that were not put before the lower court.
The appellate court held that the appeal had no “scintilla of merit”; it dismissed it and awarded the sum of N100,000 as cost against Nwosu.
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court in Abuja had in his judgments delivered on June 27 sacked Ikpeazu for allegedly disclosing false information in relation to his tax clearance details to Independent National Electoral Commission in his form nominating him as the candidate of the PDP for the last year’s governorship election in the state.
The judge, also in the said judgment, ordered the governor’s rival who was the first runner-up in the primary that produced Ikpeazu as the candidate of the PDP, Mr. Uche Ogah, to takeover.
The judge held that Ikpeazu was not qualified to be PDP’s candidate having disclosed false information to INEC in violation of his party’s Article 14(a) of the PDP Electoral Guidelines and Section 31 of the Electoral Act.
The court held in both judgments that Ikpeazu was not qualified to be PDP’s candidate having falsely claimed on oath that he had met all necessary qualifications to be PDP’s candidate.
Justice Abang’s judgments were based on separate suit (FHC/ABJ/CS/71/2015) filed by Ogah and the other suit (FHC/ABJ/CS/1086/2014) filed by Obasi Ekeagbara.