Abia guber: Supreme court gives Oti nod to challenge Ikpeazu’s election

Alex Otti

Alex Otti

The Supreme Court yesterday gave the governorship candidate of the All Progressive Alliance (APGA) in the 2015 governorship election in Abia State, Dr. Alex Otti, the go ahead to appeal against judgments challenging the validity of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s election.   

Granting his application to appeal, the court unanimously held that his (Oti) right to fair hearing, as provided under Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, was inviolable and as such cannot be denied on the grounds of technicalities.   

Oti and his party had approached the apex court to contest the decision of the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal, refusing his application to appeal against the earlier judgment of a Federal High Court in Abuja, delivered by Justice Okon Abang on June 27, last year, which sacked Ikpeazu.  

In the said judgment, Justice Abang had ordered Ikpeazu to vacate office over alleged falsehood and discrepancies in his tax documents attached to Form CF001, which he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), nominating him as the PDP governorship candidate in the election.   

Although Oti filed an application seeking to appeal the judgment of Justice Abang, the Court of Appeal, in its ruling delivered last year, held that he could not file an appeal against the judgments of the High Court on the ground that he was not a party in the originating suits and that the matter was an intra-party affair of the PDP.

It was after this that Oti approached the Supreme Court, seeking its leave to join the appeal at the court.The court, in its ruling delivered yesterday, granted his application and gave him leave to commence his appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal.   

Justice Clara Bala Ogunbiyi, who delivered the lead judgment, agreed that Oti has the constitutional right to appeal against the decision of the appellate court.  

Justice Ogunbiyi further held that the applications by Oti and his political platform (APGA) border squarely on their right to be heard on a case that affects their interest.   

She also reiterated the position of the apex court that courts are to do substantial justice without due regard to technicalities.The court disagreed with Dr. Samson Ogah that the activation of the provisions of Section 22 of the Supreme Court Act would be nothing other than an academic exercise, given the nature of the application and the justice it seeks to serve.  

Justice Ogunbiyi held that given the merit of the application, it would defeat the cause of justice to fetter the right of access to the court by way of declining to grant an application of this nature.

“The principle had long been laid down that the path to tread should be that of justice, as against technicality. “Such application should not be opposed for the sake of either doing so or because the opponent feels threatened. The overriding consideration must always be Justice and fairness,” she said.  

The Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal had in its judgments nullified the two judgments of the Federal High Court in Abuja, which on June 27, last year removed Ikpeazu as governor of Abia State.

In this article:
Alex OttiOkezie Ikpeazu
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