Appeal Court in Abuja has ordered that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State remain on seat pending the determination of suit challenging his earlier removal from office.

A five-member panel of judges, led by Morenike Ogunwumiju, said the parties in the matter must “remain as they were” before the case got to the court.
She said the ruling did not mean a stay-of-execution order.

A Federal High Court had on June 27 nullified Mr. Ikpeazu’s election after finding him guilty of tax offenses.
The court, presided by Okon Abang, ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to issue Samson Ogah a certificate of return.
On Tuesday, the counsel to Mr. Ogah argued that Mr. Ikpeazu was not legally the defacto occupant of the Abia state house.

He said there were conflicting judgments on the matter.

But the judge, Mrs. Ogunwumiju, said the court considered it important to avoid a misinterpretation of its ruling.

She said the decision of the court was for parties to “remain as they were” should not be misconstrued as meaning that the appellate court had issued a stay-of-execution order.

Justice Ogunwumiju, leading a panel of five justices of the appelate court ruled that “both parties should remain as they were to allow the court expeditious hearing of various complaints brought before this court,” implying that the judgment of the Federal High Court removing Okezie from office subsists.

The Judge fixed the hearing of the appeal for 9 August.

Dr Alex Otti, the candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA in 2015 gubernatorial election on Tuesday applied to join the appeal filed by Governor Ikpeazu against the court order removing him from office.

Justice Ogunwumiju had earlier informed the court that there were eight appeals against the judgment of Justice Okon Abang in which Governor Ikpeazu was ordered to vacate office for presenting false tax information in the nomination form he submitted to INEC to contest the 2015 polls as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

The Judge ordered INEC to issue a certificate of return to Chief Uche Ogah who came second in the PDP primaries held in December, 2014.

INEC had already obeyed the court order by issuing a fresh certificate of return to Ogah.

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