Days after the court of appealsitting in Owerri ruled that it was Alex Otti of APGA and not Okezie Ikpeazu, the incumbent governor of Abia State, that won the governorship election, the Supreme Court has ordered the Federal High Court to retry the case challenging the fraudulent payment of taxes that enabled Ikpeazu’s qualification to contest the election.
Some of his opponents in the PDP had dragged him to the Federal High Court over his eligibility to contest in the primary election conducted for governorship aspirants of the party. Even though he won the primary, his opponents alleged that he did not qualify to contest as he did not pay his taxes of years 2011, 2012 and 2013, as at when due.
The plaintiffs dragged Ikpeazu, the PDP and the INEC and produced convincing evidence at the Federal High Court that taxes allegedly paid for the 3 years were paid on the same day and therefore faulted the authenticity of Ikpeazu’s tax clearance certificate and the information contained in his INEC “Form CF100”
Ikpeazu had no answer to the allegations but challenged the competence of the Federal High Court Abuja to hear the case. The trial court overruled his objection, but the Court of Appeal sided with him and ruled that the case ought to have been filed at the Abia State High Court.
Dissatisfied with the judgment Ikpeazu’s opponents took the matter to the Supreme Court, which then faulted the decision of the Court of Appeal and affirmed the competence of the Federal High Court Abuja to try the case.
And to ensure that the hearing is not delayed the Supreme Court ordered the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court of Nigeria to ensure that the case is heard and determined expeditiously. If Ikpeazu loses, he’d be ordered to vacate the office of the governor of Abia state…… without taking even his boxers wt him….