Supreme Court begins hearing on Abia governorship tussle

Governor Okezie Ikpeazu
Governor Okezie Ikpeazu

The Supreme Court in Abuja on Tuesday commenced hearing of motions brought before it regarding the Abia State governorship tussle.

Businessman, Samson Ogah, had approached the court after the appeal court nullified the June 27 judgement of a Federal High Court in Abuja, which declared him governor of the state.

Justice Okon Abang had on June 27 found incumbent governor of the State, Okezie Ikpeazu, guilty of tax ofences and nullified his election as governor of the state.

Mr. Abang also asked the Independent National Electoral Commission to issue certificate of return to Mr. Ogah who was runner-up to Mr. Ikpeazu in the Peoples Democratic Party primary.

But a five-man panel of justices, led by Justice Morenike Ogunwumiju, on August 18, nullified the decision of the lower court; declaring Mr. Abang’s decision as a rape of democracy.

Subsequently, Mr. Ogah approached the apex court, demanding that it set aside the decision of the appeal court.

At the Supreme Court on Tuesday, three motions from Mr. Ogah and the candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Alex Oti, seeking the leave of the court to join in the matter, were heard.

Counsel to Mr. Ikpeazu and Mr. Ogah, Wale Olanikpekun and Alex Iziyon, respectively, objected to Mr. Oti’s motion.

They argued that Mr. Oti’s application to join in the matter was not granted at the lower court; which went ahead to give a judgement on the substantive application, without any appeal from Mr. Oti or his counsel.

According to Mr. Olanikpekun, Mr. Oti did not appeal the decision of the lower court when he had the time to do so.

He said his application amounted to a mere academic exercise.

The seven-member-panel of Justices led by Mahmud Tanko noted the points made by the counsel, but decided to allow Mr. Oti’s counsel, Patrick Ekueto, submit his application.

The court said it would decide afterwards on Mr. Oti’s request.

After adopting the motions, the court adjourned to allow parties file their brief of arguments.

Mr. Tanko said a date would be communicated to the parties for hearing on the subtstantive applications.

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