A Federal High Court, zAbuja, will on July 7 hear the motion filed by the Abia State Governor Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, seeking stay of execution of the judgment of the court that sacked him on June 27.
Justice Okon Abang adjourned the matter to Thursday on Monday after an intense arguments between Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) who represented Governor Ikpeazu and Dr. Alex Izinyon (SAN) the counsel to Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah.
The Judge refused to set aside the enrolment order made by the court on June 27, 2016. He ruled that the court has power to sign its own orders and issue same to the parties on request.
Justice Abang also overruled Ikpeazu’s counsel submission that the enrolment order is a court process.
Justice Abang said that Olanipekun’s oral application seeking to set aside the Certificate of Return issued to Ogah by the Independent National Electoral Commission lacked merit.
He ruled that court processes don’t include enrolment orders.
In same vain,the Judge said the court can not proceed to hear Ogah’s motion seeking to enforce the judgment, because the processes particularly the counter affidavit filed by Ogah has not been served on the respondents.
On the haste with which the enrolment order was issued, Justice Abang said that the constitution allows the court 7 days only to prepare its record of proceeding after judgment but that his court had done it in 4 days in the instant case which enable Ikpeazu to file appeal.
He overruled Ikpeazu’s counsel submission that the enrolment order was issued in haste, stating that there was no time limit.
He vehemently condemned one programmes aired in on a TV station Monday morning, which he said was used by a lawyer to misinform the public on the judgment that removed Ikpeazu from office.
Earlier, Olanipekun (SAN) who was appearing on the matter for the first time had urged the court to adjourn the matter till Thursday but Izinyon (SAN) refused and prayed the court to vacate an Abia State High Court ex-parte order inhabiting the judgment execution.
Both counsels to the parties also accused each other of resorting to self-help when the matter is pending before the court of appeal.
Counsel to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Alhassan Umar who joined the trial mid way said that the Certificate of Return was issued on 28 June in compliance with court order following the word ‘forthwith’ used in the order.
He said that certificate of Return was issued before the commission was served with the notice of appeal on same day.
He further told the court that the commission presented the certificate of Return to Ogah because there was nothing restraining the commission from complying with the court order.
Justice Abang had on June 27 sacked Ikpeazu as governor after the court found him guilty of tax evasion.
Abang had, in that judgment, directed the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue certificate of return to Ogah who came second in the primaries conducted by the Peoples Democratic Party in the state.
In a swift reaction to the judgment, Ikpeazu filed an appeal before the Appeal Court in Abuja. He also filed a motion for stay of execution of the judgment at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
However, in compliance with the court order, INEC issued Ogah a certificate of return, and he ( Ogah) immediately headed to Abia to be sworn in as governor.
But an Abia State High Court issued an injunction stopping the state’s Chief Judge or any other judicial official in the state from administering the oath of office on Ogah, pending the determination of the motion on notice at the Court of Appeal.
“Upon this motion ex-parte pursuant to section 143 (1) & (2) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and pending the determination of the motion on notice, after hearing O.O Nkume, counsel to the applicant,” Justice Chibuzo Ahuchaogu said.
“It is ordered that an order of injunction is hereby made restraining the 2nd defendant (INEC) from issuing a certificate of return to the 1st defendant (Ogah) while the claimant (Ikpeazu) remains in office in accordance with section 143 (1) & (2) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and pending the determination of the motion on notice.
“It is further ordered that the 3rd defendant (chief judge of Abia State) or any other judge of the court or any judiciary officer are hereby restricted from swearing-in the 1st defendant (Ogah) while the claimant (Ikpeazu) remains in office in accordance with section 143 (1) & (2) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and pending the determination of the motion on notice.”