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Abia logjam persists as courts hear suits today

The political logjam caused by last week’s sack of Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu by a Federal High Court continued over the weekend. Mr. Uchechukwu…

The political logjam caused by last week’s sack of Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu by a Federal High Court continued over the weekend.
Mr. Uchechukwu Ogah, the gubernatorial candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) who received his Certificate of Return from the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Thursday, saying Ikpeazu declared today a public holiday to truncate the judgment.
There was confusion in the state last week after the judgment.
This is even as a Federal High Court in Owerri, Imo State, will today begin hearing in the suit brought by another claimant to the Abia governorship seat, Friday Nwanozie Nwosu, a People’s Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirant in the state.
Ogah’s counsel, Onyekachi Ubani, said it was clear that the holiday was “all about efforts to arrest the judgment of the court after Ikpeazu had gone to another court to obtain a restraining injunction on ex parte.”
 Ubani said the claim that the holiday was declared to mourn a deceased elder statesman and former minister of Foreign Affairs, Ojo Maduekwe, was false because he never held any political or appointive position in the state.
The Abia State government announced the holiday, which will run through the holidays declared by the federal government on Tuesday and Monday, to commemorate the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan.
 The holiday in Abia, which was announced by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr Eme Okoro and the Commissioner for Information, Comrade Bonnie Iwuoha, at a joint press conference in Umuahia,  said Madueke deserved recognition  because of the services he rendered to the state and the nation.
On the injunction by a High Court in Osisioma, which restrained the chief judge of the state from swearing-in Ogah, Ubani said: “It is a stay in illegality. It doesn’t bind anybody. On what basis was it issued? Was the judge served with INEC papers before he went to court to do that? It was anticipatory and without jurisdiction. And the law he quoted, Section 143 of Electoral Act is not applicable to pre-election matters but applicable only to decisions reached at the tribunal.
Court hears motion for stay
A motion for stay of execution on the judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, setting aside the election of Dr Ikpeazu will also be heard today.The motion is coming up before the same judge, Justice Okon Abang, who earlier sacked the governor. The earlier ruling was delivered on a pre-election matter challenging the emergence of Ikpeazu as the flag-bearer of the PDP in the 2015 gubernatorial election in Abia State. Abang had ordered INEC to forthwith issue a Certificate of Return to Samson Ogah as the duly elected governor of Abia.
Third party, Nwosu challenges Ogah
Rather than Ogah, the third claimant to the seat, Friday Nwosu, said he was the actual person to take over from Ikpeazu.
 Justice A.I. Allagoa is presiding over the suit which was transferred from an Abuja Federal High Court where it was earlier filed in January, 2015.
 The suit was struck out on February 24, 2015 by Justice Adeniyi Ademola after it was withdrawn and moved to Umuahia, and then Owerri.
Nwosu joined the PDP, INEC, Governor Ikpeazu and Uche Ogah as respondents in the suit.
Speaking with Daily Trust on telephone, Nwosu, who came third in the primary poll, said Ogah should not be sworn-in as governor because he rejected the result of the primary poll, based on allegations of irregularities, and called for the conduct of a fresh one.
He (Ogah), therefore, cannot benefit from the outcome of the primary poll he objected to, Nwosu argues.
 Nwosu claimed he detected the tax certificate discrepancies in Ikpeazu’s form and filed a suit against him in 2015.
He added that Ogah does not come from the Abia South Senatorial Zone where the party zoned position of the governorship candidate to.
 “I have a copy of the result sheet of the primary of 8/12/14 and the signatures of Ogah and his agent are not on it. Ogah walked away during the primary. He cannot take benefit of a process which he rejected. We had also written to the court that he has committed an abuse of court process by going to another court when he is a party in my own suit. I am the candidate of the PDP in that election,” he said.
 However, in a reply to a text mesage, Ogah’s counsel, Onyekachi Ubani, dismissed Nwosu’s claims as “very strange and absurd,” adding that he cannot declare himself the governor without a pronouncement of the court.
We have no hand in the logjam – FG
The office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) has distanced itself from insinuations that it was behind the issuance of Certificate of Return to Mr. Ogah.
 In a statement through his media aide, Salihu Othman Isah, the AGF, Abubakar Malami (SAN), said his constitutional powers for the legal opinion of his office had not been invoked on the issue, adding that it was his belief that the law should naturally take its cause.
“Of particular concern are those who have peddled ill-natured rumours with a view to misinform our discerning populace that the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and by extension, the Federal Government of Nigeria that gave directives to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue Certificate of Return to Dr. Uchechukwu Ogah declaring him governor-elect. He has definitely not taken any action either by spoken words or body language as far as this Abia governorship crisis is concerned,” he said.
“I wish to therefore, on behalf of my principal declare that these rumours are untrue and a figment of the imagination of those pushing these selfish, shameless and irredeemable lies into public space which only translates to partisanship on the side of its purveyors.
“As far as the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation is concerned, the constitutional powers for the legal opinion of his office have not been invoked on this issue. So far, nobody has approached him to proffer any legal opinion to it,” the statement added.

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