Samson Ogah, who was declared winner of the Abia State governorship election by the Federal High Court in June, has filed two separate appeals before the Supreme Court, challenging the judgement of the Court of Appeal, which refused to recognize him as winner of the poll.
Documents obtained exclusively by PREMIUM TIMES show that Mr. Ogah is appealing against the July 18 judgement of the appeal court on 42 grounds.
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja division had, on June 27, nullified the April 11, 2015 election of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu Ikpeazu for submitting false information in his tax clearance certificate to the Peoples Democratic Party during the governorship primary in the state.
The court ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to issue certificate of return to Mr. Ogah, who emerged runner-up to Mr. Ikpeazu in the primary.
However, on July 18, the Abuja Division of the Court of Appeal set aside the nullification of the governor’s election, describing the judgement of the lower court as a miscarriage of justice.
In the first motion with 24 grounds of appeal which he filed through his counsel, Alex Iziyon, at the Supreme Court, Mr. Ogah is seeking the annulment of the judgement of the appeal court. He is also asking that he be declared winner of the governorship election.
The second motion containing 18 grounds of appeal wants the nullification of the decision of the appeal court because it was given in error.
The defendants in the appeal, with reference numbers CA/A/390/2016 and FHC/ABJ/CS/71/2016, apart from the governor, are the PDP, INEC and one Friday Nwosu.
In the fresh appeal, Mr. Iziyon, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, argued that based on section 31 of the Electoral Act, “Where documents submitted to INEC are found to be false, no oral document will be admitted to alter or clarify the initial documents.”
He said the same court had in a previous judgement, in the case between Christian Adabah Abah and Anor versus Hon. Hassan Anthony Saleh and Anor, decided that documents submitted to INEC in form 001 were documentary in nature and that the court should have “stayed with its previous decision and not create conflicting decision on same issues of similar facts”.
He also argued that the appeal court erred in its decision and that the lower court should have struck out the case due to what he called faulty originating summons.
“By the Supreme Court decision in Emeh vs. Osuagwu, the proper order to have been made should have been an order returning the case to the trial court for hearing on the disputed facts,” Mr. Iziyon said.
He further argued that the court was wrong in deciding that the burden of proof lied with his appellant (Mr. Ogah).
He said, “What the appellant is supposed to prove as his initial burden is to present documents or information submitted by the 1st respondent (Ikpeazu) in form 001 to INEC which contain false information.
“Once that has been done as was done by the appellant in his case, the burden shifts to the 1st and 2nd respondents to show that the documents or information are genuine.
“The 1st and 2nd respondent in discharging their burden cannot, modify alter the document or information with a later document showing mistake or inadvertence which were not originally submitted to INEC.”
Mr. Izinyon further said the appeal court was wrong in submitting that Mr. Abang spoke from both sides of his mouth when he (Abang) agreed with the allegation that the document was false.
He however said the case in question was different from making a false statement under the Criminal and Penal code.
“Section 31 of the Electoral Act is set encompassing on what constitute false information, not forgery,” he said.
Mr. Izinyon said the panel of five judges erred in law when it submitted that the lower court imported the term: “As at when due” to the PDP guidelines.
“The term as at when due was used by the trial judge on the 7th false information,” he said.
He therefore prayed the Supreme Court to set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal and affirm the June 27 decision of the Federal High Court.
The date of hearing is yet to be fixed by the Supreme Court.