Abia Governorship Tussle: Appeal Court dismisses Otti and KOWA candidate’s applications to be joined in Ikpeazu/Ogah suit

Posted by News Express | 6 August 2016 | 2,272 times

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The Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, yesterday dismissed applications by the governorship candidates of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Dr. Alex Otti, and KOWA party, Mr. Dan Onyeonagu, seeking to join in the Abia State governorship case before the appellate court.

The court described the two applicants as “meddlesome interlopers, busy bodies, aliens and strangers” to the dispute between Governor Ikpeazu and Mr. Samson Ogah. The court said they cannot have interest recognisable in law in the domestic affairs of the respondents.

The panel of the court, led by Justice Abubakar Dati Yahaya, in a unanimous ‎ judgment, held that the two applicants failed to establish their interest in the internal affairs of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).The court held that allowing the applicants to join the dispute would amount to attempting to change the nature of the suit from intra-party to inter-party, which was not an issue before the court.

Justice Yahaya, while delivering the judgment, held that the subject of litigation between Ikpeazu and Ogah, who are members of the PDP, was limited to the party’s primary election conducted on December 8, 2014 and that the two applicants, being members of different political parties, have no locus standi to question the primary election of the PDP.

The Judge also held that the applicants failed to give circumstantial reasons to sway the court to exercise its judicial discretion in their favour.The appellate court, among others, also held that the applicants failed to transmit the proceedings of the trial court, the Federal High Court, Abuja, to the Court of Appeal, where their interest was supposed to have been established, but merely relied on affidavit depositions to join the legal tussle at the appeal court.

Justice Yahaya further held that from the documents placed before the court, the applicants were not deprived of anything belonging to them, since they did not participate in the PDP primary election, adding that nothing has been taken away from them with the outcome of the said election.

“From the way the case of the plaintiff was coughed, I do not see how the interest of the applicants can come in the primary election of another party, except if they want the dispute to metamorphose into inter-party dispute.

“In totality, the applicants did not establish any legal rights to be joined as parties in the dispute and as such. They have no locus standi to dabble into PDP affairs. “In short, they are meddlesome interlopers and their appeals lacked merit and are hereby dismissed with cost of N50,000 to each of the three respondents,” the court held.

A Federal High Court in Abuja had on June 27, this year nullified Ikpeazu’s election after holding that he submitted false information regarding his tax clearance certificate, as alleged by Ogah. Justice Okon Abang also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue Ogah a certificate of return.

The main appeal was, however, adjourned to August 9, this year when the court would hear all applications and the main appeal together. Ikpeazu, in his notice of appeal filed by Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), raised five grounds of appeal upon, asking the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgment and orders of the high court.

The governor said the lower court lacked the power to order him to vacate office. The governor said the only power, authority and order exercisable by the lower court was to disqualify the candidate from contesting the election, based on section 31(6) of the Electoral Act 2010.

He also faulted the Judge when he held that he did not pay his tax for the years 2011, 2012 and 2013, at when due, when he was a public officer whose tax deduction was under Pay As You Earn (PAYE) scheme, where tax deductions were from the source of his monthly salary by the tax authorities who issued all the tax receipts and certificates.

He said that the Abia State Board of Internal Revenue Service that issued him the tax certificates had not declared the certificates forged and that the court did not invite the issuing authorities to give evidence in the course of the trial.

Ikpeazu said Ogah was not a staff of the revenue authority and no staff of the board testified ‎that the tax certificates were forged. He said the Judge violated his right to fair hearing by embarking on judicial investigation without giving him the opportunity to address the court on the issue and the Judge had no duty to investigate the contents of documents dumped on the court in the recess of his chambers with a view to finding for the plaintiff. Meanwhile, the PDP has also rejected the judgment and filed a separate appeal, saying the trial court erred in law when it held that it had jurisdiction to hear the suit.

•Text courtesy of The Guardian. Photo shows Alex Otti.

Source: News Express

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