- Abia governor elect, Sampson Ogah says the injunction obtained by embattled governor Okezie Ikpeazu at the Abia state High Court could not invalidate his inauguration as he is on his way to Umuahia, the Abia state capital, to be sworn in as governor
- He says that the state High Court which granted the injunction lacked the locus to do so adding that only an Appeal Court could grant such injunction
- He says that the appeal filed by Ikpeazu at the Court of Appeal could not be considered a stay over the judgment of Justice Okon Abang
Sampson Ogah, Abia state governor-elect has reacted to a court injunction barring the chief judge of the state from going ahead with his swearing in ceremony.
Ogah who was declared Abia governor by the Federal High Court and issued a certificate of return by INEC on Thursday, June 30, had his hopes dashed following an injunction by the Abia state High Court forbidding his swearing in.
The order made by Justice Chibuzo Ahuchaogu of the Abia High Court said among other things, “Upon this motion ex-parte pursuant to section 143 (1) & (2) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and pending the determination of the motion on notice, after hearing O.O Nkume, counsel to the applicant.”
Apart from the court order, Ikpeazu also declared Friday and Monday as public holidays in “honour of a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ojo Maduekwe, who died on Wednesday”.
The federal government has already declared Tuesday and Wednesday public holidays to mark the Ed-il-Fitr.
The implication is that the judiciary in Abia state will not open for business until Thursday, July 7, making it impossible for Ogah to immediately challenge the injunction granted Ikpeazu.
But according to Ogah, the injunction obtained by embattled governor Okezie Ikpeazu could not invalidate his inauguration as he is on his way to Umuahia, the Abia state capital, to be sworn in as governor, Premium Times reports.
Speaking through his media adviser Monday Ubani, Ogah said that the injunction came from a subordinate court to the Federal High Court that ordered his swearing in.
He maintained that the state High Court which granted the injunction lacked the locus to do so adding that only an Appeal Court could grant such injunction.
He also said the appeal filed by Ikpeazu at the Court of Appeal could not be considered a stay over the judgment of Justice Okon Abang.
Ogah said: “The Federal high court of Abuja presided over by Justice Okon Abang ordered Dr Okezie Ikpeazu to vacate his seat for Dr Uche Ogah OON as the rightful person for the seat. INEC was ordered to issue the said Ogah with a certificate of return which that body has complied with.
“The next order that was issued by the federal high court was for the Chief Judge of Abia to swear in Dr Uche Ogah, the rightful person to occupy the governor’s seat. That order is yet to be complied with.
“I understand that a high court in Osisioma Ngwa the axis where the governor hails from has issued an interim order restraining the Chief Judge from swearing in Dr Uche Ogah as the governor of the state. The point must be made that this order cannot stand as it is invalid in law.
“The order did not emanate from a higher court but from a court of coordinate jurisdiction and does not in any vitiate or invalidate the earlier judgement of the Federal High Court in which the Chief Judge of Abia state was ordered to swear in Dr Uche Sampson Ogah. Only a higher court, in this case Court of Appeal has the jurisdiction to reverse the judgement of the Federal High Court.
“Note also that appeal of Dr Okezie Ikpeazu before the Court of Appeal does not operate as a stay over the judgement of Justice Okon Abang. In the absence of any express order of the high court or the court of appeal ordering stay of execution, the judgement of the Federal High Court delivered on the 27th of June, 2016 should be obeyed by all the parties.”
Speaking through another aide, Peter Agba Kalu, Ogah said he was on his way to Umuahia, the Abia state capital for swearing in.
He said: “We are enroute to Umuahia for the swearing in from Imo Airpot.
“We don’t believe there is an injunction like that. The injunction is baseless and against the rules of the judiciary.
“Is the injunction saying that the Certificate of return issued to Uche Ogah is not legal. Is it saying that Abia should not have a Governor because the Certificate of return nullifies that issued to Ikpeazu.
“We also have a directive by the CJN that he should be sworn in immediately. So that injunction to the best of our knowledge does not exist and where it exist is null and void because it has already been overtaken by events.”
On Monday, June 27, a Federal High Court in Abuja sacked Governor Okezie Ikpeazu for allegedly submitting false information to his party, ahead of PDP’s governorship primary in December 2014.
Justice Abang said Ikpeazu was never qualified to run in the primaries as a governorship candidate. The judge also ordered the Chief Judge of the state to swear in Ogah as the substantive governor of Abia state.