We all know the facts on the Abia State Governor’s tale of two certificates of return. Now, it all started when Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of the People’s Democratic Party won the elections. There was an election petition against him, just as it is customary amongst the electoral candidates who lost the election. The gubernatorial aspirant and candidate of the All Progressives grand Alliance Party Mr. Alex Otti instituted an election petition at the Election Tribunal praying for the election to be cancelled for being marred with irregularities and fraud and also asking that he be declared winner of that same election. He lost at the Election Tribunal which held that Ikpeazu was validly elected as Governor of Abia State. Otti proceeded to the Court of Appeal, where he got victory as he was declared winner of the 2015 elections in Abia State by the Court of Appeal sitting in Owerri by December 31, 2015. There were grumblings from different quarters on the outcome of the judgment as a case with very similar facts had been earlier adjudicated upon by the Court of Appeal sitting in Lagos State with a contradicting decision arrived at, by the Owerri division. This was the case of Jimi Agbaje and Akinwumi Ambode who were both gubernatorial aspirants for Lagos State Governorship elections.

Undeterred by Otti’s victory, Ikpeazu headed to the highest court of the land to appeal the decision of the Court of Appeal and bagged victory as the Supreme Court upheld his election as the Governor of Abia State.

Imagine the relief Ikpeazu must have felt, he must have thought his political storm was over in the early part of the year when the Supreme Court affirmed his election. Then it began again, with the ‘tax scandal’ as I would like to call it.

Presently, the Federal High Court sitting at Abuja sacked Ikpeazu as the Governor of Abia State because he did not furnish credible evidence of payment of tax to Abia State Government. The Court directed that the Independent Electoral Commission issue a certificate of return to Mr. John Ogah, the man who came second in the PDP primaries.

I do not think it is legally permissible for the Federal High Court to enthrone John Ogah as the Governor of Abia State. If for any reason as stipulated by section 182(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the present Governor should be disqualified as a candidate seeking the office of Governor of Abia State then the mantle of leadership in the State would and should fall to his deputy and not a man who came second in PDP’s primary elections.

The case of Clestine Omehia and Rotimi Ameachi is distinguishable from the present case and cannot be used as a precedent because the Supreme Court found that Rotimi Ameachi won the PDP governorship primary elections.

Also the notorious judgments and rulings of the court is not lost on all, the Federal High Court sitting at Owerri held on July 8, 2016 that it was not satisfied by the evidence presented before it by Mr. Friday Nwosu that the tax documents filed by Ikpeazu were forged. This is contradictory to the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting at Abuja delivered on June 27, 2016. Further, the judicial rascality is displayed by the ruling of the High Court of Abia State which arrested the judgment of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja when it restrained the Chief Judge of the State from swearing in John Ogah as the Governor of Abia State via the exparte application filed by Ikpeazu.

The legal drama still unfolds, but here are a few things everyone should know:

  1. The Abia State Saga has generated animosity in the judiciary as some courts are being perceived as trying to truncate the powers of other courts.
  2. The judiciary has shown its penchant for inconsistency and power tussle.
  3. The politicians know that the judiciary can be manipulated to achieve their ambition.
  4. The conflicting judgments of two courts of co-ordinate jurisdiction will need to be appealed against to have a clear picture of the principles of law applicable to the case at hand and the established facts which they are applicable to.
  5. The High Courts which includes the Federal High Courts in Nigeria are courts of co-ordinate jurisdictions and are only bound by the decisions of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
  6. When they are two conflicting decisions from two courts of co-ordinate jurisdictions such as the Federal High Court, both courts are not bound by the decisions of one another no matter how persuasive such a decision might be.
  7. Also having the same matter adjudicated at the same time in two different courts of co-ordinate jurisdiction by the same party amounts to an abuse of court process. It smacks of desperation on the part of the litigant and leads to a shopping spree for legal solutions. However, in the Abia state case, the parties at the Federal High Court sitting at Abuja and Owerri were different.

By floramichaels

Hi, I am Flora Ngo-Martins. I love writing and I am passionate about fashion, stories, news and food. Sometimes I get a little bit serious but that's alright, I can also be mischievous. I also like to analyse stuffs people do and sometimes judge.*wink* Most of all, I love to influence the lives of people positively and tell people's stories from a totally different perspective. Feel free to contact me if you have any suggestions or....

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *