Abia Governorship Appeal: Supreme Court Judge Withdraws from Panel over Allegations

One of the Supreme Court Justices on the panel to hear the appeals that emanated from the appellate Court judgment in the Abia State governorship election tussle, Justice Amina Augie on Wednesday, disqualified herself from the matter.
Justice Augie said she was withdrawing from the matter in view of the allegation of bias levelled against her by one of the parties in the matter.
The hearing in the governorship tussle, which commenced at the Supreme Court, Wednesday, Justice Augie said her withdrawing from participating in the matter, was to protect her integrity and unbiased judgment .
She claimed that a party in the case had accused her of not properly constituting the four-member panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal that heard the petition in Imo State, when she was the presiding Justice of the Division.
On that note, the five-member of Justices hearing the appeals adjourned the matter to a date that will be communicated to all the parties in the matter.
Justice Bode Rhodes-Vivour who presided over the panel said once a Judge is accused of bias in any case that the ideal thing to do is to withdraw.
Justice Rhodes-Vivour disclosed that a new panel will be reconstituted to hear the appeals and that the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria Justice Walter Onnoghen will fix a new hearing date.
Justice Okon Abang of a Federal High Court in Abuja had on June 27, 2016, sacked Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu and ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to issue the Certificate of Return to the appellate, Uche Ogah.
Justice Abang had ruled that lkpeazu falsified his tax certificates, and must lose his seat to Ogah, also a member of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Ikpeazu had appealed against the judgment.
On August 18, 2016, the Court of Appeal upturned Abang’s judgment.
The five-member panel led by Justice Morenike Ogunwumiju said Abang “raped democracy” when he ordered INEC to issue a Certificate of Return to Ogah without evidence of forgery against Ikpeazu.
According to the court, the judgement was erroneously based on the inadequacy of tax receipt which Ikpeazu cannot be blamed for.
“After reading through the judgment several times, I was amazed at how the trial Judge arrived at his conclusion of forgery against the appellant when there was no evidence of forgery. To say the least, his findings are ridiculous,” said Justice Ogunwumiju, one of the Justices on the panel.
Ogah had thus approached the apex court for final determination.

Author: News Editor

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