The Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, has annulled the election of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja, who delivered the judgment, also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a certificate of return to Uche Samson Ogah, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), who contested the party’s primary that produced the governor.
The judge held: “That to give effect to the judgment of this court, the plaintiff, Dr. Samson Ogah, the candidate of the PDP in the 2015 gubernatorial election in Abia, is the person entitled to the certificate of return in the election for the office of governor of Abia State of Nigeria in the election held in April 2015.
“It is hereby ordered that INEC, the third defendant, should immediately issue a certificate of return to the plaintiff, Dr. Samson Ogah, as governor of Abia State in the election held in 2015 and restore to him all the entitlements as the elected governor of Abia.
“Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu is hereby ordered to vacate office as governor of Abia immediately relying on the decision of the Supreme Court in INEC vs Obi.”
According to Justice Abang, Mr. Ikpeazu was guilty of tax evasion and was therefore unqualified to have contested the 2015 governorship election in the state.
“Going by the second defendant’s appointment letter, as General Manager Abia Passenger Integrated Scheme, with effect from July 18, 2011 with the amount payable as salaries and entitlement clearly spelt out.
“Going by the second defendant’s appointment letter, the second defendant would have worked for Abia Passenger Integrated Scheme for five months, 12 days.
“The earnings of the second defendant, based on the letter of appointment by single calculation in 2011 for five months, 12 days is N493 or N546,669 if not assigned a government vehicle.
“The tax payment submitted by the second defendant didn’t reflect this figure,” he said.
Governor Ikpeazu however reacted to the ruling, calling on the people of Abia not to panic, adding that he was still the governor of Abia State. He further said that he would appeal the ruling as he had instructed his lawyers to file an appeal immediately against the judgment removing him.