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I’ve Forgiven My Detractors, Says Ikpeazu

okezie ikpeazu

The Governor of Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazu, said on Friday that he had forgiven his political opponents for distracting him with litigation that lasted for about two years.

The governor said this while reacting to a Supreme Court judgment on Friday that affirmed him winner of the 2015 governorship election in the state.

Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Enyinnaya Appolos, Ikpeazu said he now expected all Abia indigenes, including his political opponents, to join hands with him in moving the state forward.

He said, “The time for politics is long over and I have forgiven all those that were bent on distracting me. Let all well-meaning Abians, including my opponents, come and join us to grow and develop our state without distractions as we ultimately have stakes in the growth and development of our state and people.

“Today, there is work to do in Abia and history will judge us by how much of that work we do, not by how much of politics we play. My doors are open to all, my ears are open to hearing and my eyes are strong enough to read suggestions on how we can best deliver greater dividends to those who really matter.”

The Supreme Court on Friday affirmed Ikpeazu’s win after dismissing the case of Uchechukwu Ogah, who had earlier obtained a judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja which removed Ikpeazu from office.

A five-man bench of the apex court, led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, unanimously dismissed Ogah’s appeal for lacking in substance on Friday.

An appeal filed by another aspirant in the 2015 governorship election, Friday Nwosu, with respect to the subject matter was also dismissed in the same judgment.

Justice Dattijo Mohammed, who prepared the lead judgment, was absent on Friday, but his decision was read by another member of the panel, Justice Ejembi Eko.

In the judgment, the apex court directed each of the appellants (Ogah and Nwosu) to pay N500, 000 in favour of Ikpeazu and the Peoples Democratic Party.

This means Ikpeazu and the PDP will each get N500, 000 from Ogah.

Justice Okon Abang, then of the Federal High Court, Abuja (now of Asaba Division), had in his judgment delivered on June 27, 2015, sacked Ikpeazu and directed the Chief Judge of Abia State to swear in Ogah as governor.

Ogah was the plaintiff in the case and was a runner-up in the PDP primaries won by Ikpeazu.

Justice Abang had agreed with the plaintiff that Ikpeazu was not qualified to have contested the 2015 election in the state on the grounds of alleged falsehood and discrepancies in the governor’s tax documents attached to Form CF001, which he submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission for his nomination as the PDP governorship candidate in the state.

But in its judgment delivered on August 18, 2016, a five-man panel of the appeal court, led by Justice Helen Ogunwumiju, nullified Justice Abang’s judgment and set aside all the orders, including the one directing INEC to issue fresh certificate of return to Ogah.

The Supreme Court, in its unanimous decision on Friday, affirmed the substantial decision of the Court of Appeal.

The court held that it was detrimental to Ogah’s case that the PDP’s guideline around which the suit of the plaintiff was built was not presented before the court.

Highlighting the key issues in the judgment, the CJN said, “Was the lower court right by saying that the originating summons was a wrong mode of commencement of action in the sense that the facts were irreconcilable. That issue is resolved in favour of the appellant.

“But the lower court was right to hold that the PDP’s guidelines ought to have been exhibited to enable the court to assume jurisdiction properly.

“We agree that the use of the originating summons was proper but the PDP guidelines ought to have been exhibited for the court to look at.”

Justice Onnoghen also held that Ogah was unable to establish his case.

He held that the entire case lacked substance and was nothing but “a storm in the teacup.”

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