Ogah: I’m not desperate to be Abia governor

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A People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirant in Abia State, Dr Uche Ogah, Wednesday said his demand to be sworn in as governor was not borne out of desperation.

He said contrary to impression being created, his case against Governor Okezie Ikpeazu was far from being an ambush.

According to him, his victory at the court is valid and not “a hurriedly executed legal ambush for the acquisition of political power as being insinuated by some persons.”

“My case is strongly anchored on facts, and the refusal of Ikpeazu to respond to the core issues and his resort to propaganda speaks volumes,” Ogah said.

At a briefing in Lagos through his counsel Mr Monday Ubani, Ogah said his case predated Ikpeazu’s swearing in as governor and had reached the Supreme Court before returning to the lower court.

Ogah said his claim was that Ikpeazu was not eligible to participate in the primaries on the basis that he failed to pay his taxes as and when due as required by the 1999 Constitution, PDP’s Guidelines, and the Electoral Act of 2010. He said on the face of it, Ikpeazu’s tax clearance was questionable.

The Tax Clearance form (Code PD002/G), dated November 4, 2014, and sworn to at the High Court Registry, Aba, shows that Ikpeazu’s tax receipt number for December 2011 is 0012849; that of December 2012 is 0012846 and that of December 2013 is 0012847 and 0012848.

“Did he use one booklet to pay tax for three years? Is he the only one paying tax? How come the tax number which ends in 49 came first rather than last?,” Ubani asked.

He said Ogah went to court soon after the primaries because the PDP’s appeal panel failed to respond to his complaints about Ikpeazu’s alleged non-qualification.

When he filed the suit in 2014, Ikpeazu challenged the court’s jurisdiction. The appeal process got to the Court of Appeal until it was decided by the Supreme Court which ruled that the Federal High Court had jurisdiction to hear the case.

The first judge handling the case, Justice Adeniyi Ademola, withdrew from the case on the basis that he was accused of bias and returned the file to the Chief Judge. The matter was re-assigned to Justice Okon Abang.

“If Ikpeazu is convinced about the rightness of his cause, he should vacate the seat, plead his case in a court of law and when granted victory come back rather than resort to propaganda,” Ubani said.

According to him, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) should not be blamed for issuing Ogah with a certificate of return because the court ordered that it should be with immediate effect.

Besides, there was no order to the contrary brought to INEC’s notice. “We got an enrolment order which INEC complied with,” Ubani said.

The lawyer said legal steps would be taken to discharge the restraining order made by an Osisioma High Court stopping Ogah’s inauguration.

“We have to vacate the order lawfully even though the judge who made the order did not indicate a return date,” Ubani said.

On why Ogah should be sworn in, the lawyer said an appeal does not operate as a stay of execution in pre-election matters, adding that it is “absurd” for a court of coordinate jurisdiction to arrest an order made by another court.

“The Inspector-General of Police and the Attorney-General of the Federation should have ensured compliance with Justice Abang’s order in the absence of any contrary order, because the judgement says ‘with immediate effect’, and an appeal does not mean a stay of execution because it is not a criminal case,” Ubani said.

He said Ogah would not take the laws into his hands but would pursue his case to the logical conclusion through the courts, adding that he was not desperate to be governor.

Ubani said Ogah, an oil magnate, entrepreneur, investor and President of Master Energy Group, a conglomerate with over 15 subsidiaries and interests across a variety of industries with over 40,000 employees, “is not in the race for the money”.

“He sees involvement in politics as an opportunity to have more solid and sustainable impact on Abia,” he added.