Tension has gripped Abia state over the impending judgment of a five man panel of the Court of the Appeal sitting over appeals arising from the tax forgery suit instituted against Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu by a chieftain of the PDP in the state, Sir Friday Nwosu.
Nwosu who contested the December 8, 2014 PDP governorship primaries in Abia state, had filed a suit accusing Ikpeazu of submitting forged tax documents and false information to his party and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
But the Federal High Court, Owerri presided over by Justice Lewis Allagoa, on July 8, said Nwosu failed to prove a tax forgery suit against the governor, but was silent on the issue of false information. Justice Allagoa further stated that Ikpeazu was not the maker of the tax documents.
But in a move which shocked keen observers of the tax forgery suit, Ikpeazu last week, lodged an appeal against some aspects of the judgment on which he secured victory in court.
It was gathered that the panel headed by Justice R.C. Agbo which had directed all parties to file and exchange all processes on or before Monday 19th September, is set deliver judgment on Friday September 23, 2016.
A source at the Abia Government House told our correspondent that Gov. Ikpeazu’s camp had been restless as they advance efforts to ensure the judgment goes in their favour. According to the source, the governor has constituted a ‘contact team’ which includes a prominent Abia Senator ,Chairman of the South East Council of Traditional Rulers and a famous oil marketer to reach out to the length and breadth of the community.
“Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu is not giving anything to chance in this case; he has constituted a team to reach out to all parts of the country to ensure that the judgment goes in his favour. They have been making contacts and running from one community to the other across the country looking for how to reach the Judges of the panel. The governor is worried over the constitution of the new five man panel of the court of Appeal to hear and deliver judgment on the matter.”
Close associates of the governor had earlier boasted that the appeals filed by Nwosu would not be heard till the end of Ikpeazu’s administration. But the President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Zainab Bulkachuwa last week, set up the Justice Agbo panel to hear and deliver judgment on the matter which had suffered several delays despite being a pre election suit which ought to have been decided before the governorship election.
It is believed that the Supreme Court might be waiting on the conclusion of the appeal to consolidate it with other appeals arising from the June 27th verdict of the Federal High Court 10 delivered by Justice Okon Abang which sacked Ikpeazu, but was later reversed by another five man panel of the Court of Appeal headed by Justice Morenike Ogunwumiju.