Court sacks Abia governor, Okezie Ikpeazu

Abia State governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu

Abia State governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja has nullified the election of Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, and ordered him to vacate office immediately.

Justice Okon Abang also asked the Independent National Electoral Commission to issue a certificate of return to Uche Ogah who contested against Ikpeazu for the People’s Democratic Party’s governorship ticket in December 2014.

Ogah had accused Ikpeazu’s of submitting false information in his tax clearance certificate to the party during the governorship primaries in the state.

Abang ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a certificate of return to Ogah as the duly elected governor of Abia.

He said the court relied on the Supreme Court decisions in the case of Obi vs INEC and Ameachi vs INEC to make the consequential order.

The court said that Ogah, a PDP gubernatorial aspirant in 2015 election in Abia, was entitled to the certificate of return in the election held in April 2015.

“It is hereby ordered that INEC, the third defendant should immediately issue certificate of return to 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,’’ he held.

Abang held that the tax clearance certificate and income tax receipts submitted by Ikpeazu were unknown to the law and made him ineligible to contest the poll.

He held that the 2011 tax clearance certificate and income tax receipt submitted to INEC before the 2014 PDP primaries contained false information.

The court said that Ikpeazu’s appointment letter as General Manager, Abia Passenger Integrated Scheme on July 18, 2011 spelt out his salary and entitlements.

“Going by the appointment letter, Ikpeazu 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 government vehicle.

“The tax payment submitted by the second defendant didn’t reflect this figure,’’ the court held.

Abang further held that the tax certificate indicated the gross earnings of Ikpeazu for 2011 to be N1.14 million and the income tax was assessed on this figure.

He also held that the date on the tax receipt filed by the governor was on a Saturday, adding that Saturday, even in Abia was a public holiday.

The court said that Ikpeazu did not file his tax clearance in 2011, 2012 and 2013 and that all payments he made preceding the 2014 primaries were made in one day and not as and when due.

Abang held that Ikpeazu perjured when he said that he had fulfilled all the requirements to contest the 2015 elections.

This, he said, was because he had failed to provide a tax clearance certificate that was known to the law.

He added that the governor was not qualified to be the candidate of the PDP in the primaries of 2014 and was also not qualified to be fielded as the candidate for the 2015 election.

He held that Ogah was the qualified candidate to contest as the candidate of the PDP for the 2015 election and his name ought to have been forwarded INEC as the PDP candidate.

He said that Ikpeazu did not win the PDP primaries as he was not eligible or qualified to contest the poll.
He also awarded N100, 000 cost in favour of the Ogah.

In this article:
Abia StateOkezie Ikpeazu
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  • Sam Kargbo

    Really? These courts can’t cease to amaze me. How can a tax matter be a disqualifier in the face of the clear constitutional provisions on qualification and disqualification?

    • Tamuno-Opubo Cookey-Gam

      Because every working citizen is meant to pay taxes.

  • Sam Kargbo

    Tamuno tax Offences do not disqualify a candidate. Having been sworn in, if what he did constituted a crime he would be tried after leaving office.

  • Bassey Etta

    The judge is overreaching his boundaries. How can a judge
    be a tax auditor and judge at the same time. Where is the
    board of internal revenue here? Did the board of internal
    revenue do an audit on Governor Ikpeazu? When did Nigeria
    start using judges as tax auditors? If there is an error in a
    tax return, the only agency that the power to know is the
    board of internal revenue. Where is the separation of powers
    here? Where is the tax court in Nigeria?
    This is a joke. Nigerian judiciary, wake up and do your work
    and let others do their own work.

    • Chukxharry

      Thumbs up for all the pertinent questions!The judge suddenly doubled as a tax expert to understand all the technicalities involved in tax administration and assessment to know Ikpeazu’s tax filings were in error.Funny judiciary!

  • Gbelegbo

    This means if a seating governor commits an offence before election he cannot be covered by immunity. FAYOSE committed offence of money laundry before election so he is not qualified to be elected a governor. Even if is election is sponsored by Zenith bank as his defense, this is an offence in the company and allied matters act and the electoral law.

  • john femioly

    Ipkeazu is fringeing ignorance about his tax fraud case. These case has been through Appeal Court and Supreme Court and it was sent back back to Abuja High Court that eventually sacked Ikpeazu. However, could it have been a serendipity that another PDP guber candidate from Ngwa (Mr Friday Nwaosu), took Ipkeazu to court on the same tax fraud of which the case is coming up by Monday 4th of July 2016 at Owerri High Court. Please find time and read Supreme Court ruling/directive on Ipkeazu tax fraud case………………….Bering in mind, this case has been on before governoship election.

    SAHARAREPORTERS, Jan 24, 2016
    The governor of Abia state, Okezie Ikpeazu is in fresh trouble as the Nigerian Supreme Court has ordered the Federal High Court to retry the case challenging the fraudulent payment of taxes that enabled his qualification to contest the governorship election of the state.

    Okezie Ikpeazu
    Some of his opponents in the People’s Democratic Party led by Obasi
    Uba Ekagbara and Chukuemeka Mba had dragged him to the Federal High
    Court via suit FHC/ABJ/ CS/1086/2014 over his eligibility to contest in
    the primary election conducted for governorship aspirants of the party
    in the state during the last election in 2015. Even though he won the
    primary, his opponents alleged that he did not qualify to contest as he
    did not pay his taxes of years 2011, 2012 and 2013 as at when due.

    The plaintiffs dragged Ikpeazu, the People’s Democratic Party and the
    Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and produced
    convincing evidence at the Federal High Court that taxes allegedly paid
    for the three years were paid on the same day and therefore faulted the
    authenticity of Ikpeazu’s tax clearance certificate and the information
    contained in his INEC “Form CF100”. Ikpeazu had no answer to the
    allegations but challenged the competence of the Federal High Court
    Abuja to hear the case. The trial court overruled his objection, but the
    Court of Appeal sided with him and ruled that the case ought to have
    been filed at the Abia State High Court.

    Dissatisfied with the judgment Ikpeazu’s opponents took the matter to
    the Supreme Court. In its judgment handed down ………. by five
    Supreme Court justices led by Justice Mohammed Muntaka -Coomassie, the
    court faulted the decision of the Court of Appeal and affirmed the
    competence of the Federal High Court Abuja to try the case.The justices
    then remitted the case back to the Federal High Court for the expedited
    trial of the tax fraud case challenging the eligibility of Ikpeazu to
    contest the governorship election. And to ensure that the hearing is not
    delayed the Supreme Court ordered the Chief Judge of the Federal High
    Court of Nigeria to ensure that the case is heard and determined

    If Gov. Ikpeazu loses the pre-election case at the Federal High
    Court, he will be ordered to vacate the office of the governor of Abia
    state since he was not competent to have contested talk less of winning
    the election. The recent ruling shows that Ikpeazu has not been able to
    counter the serious allegation from his opponents that he fraudulently
    and criminally evaded payment of taxes to the federal government until
    he began running for election.