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p37 for editing Abia: Court sacks Ikpeazu, says Ogar be sworn in *We’ll comply-INEC *Judgment full of errors-Ikpeazu By John Chuks Azu & Fidelis Mac-Leva…

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Abia: Court sacks Ikpeazu, says Ogar be sworn in

*We’ll comply-INEC *Judgment full of errors-Ikpeazu

By John Chuks Azu & Fidelis Mac-Leva

A Federal High Court in Abuja has removed the Abia State governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, on the grounds that he included false information on his tax clearance certificate.

In his place, the court has directed that the first runner-up in the primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sampson Ugochukwu Ogar, should be issued certificate of return by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and be sworn-in as governor.

In his ruling, yesterday, Justice Okon Abang held that Ikpeazu and was not qualified to contest the primary election PDP, which held on December 8, 2014, because he made false declaration in his INEC Form CF001 containing information of his tax certificate and personal income tax payments (P.A.Y.E.).

Similarly, INEC said it will respect the court judgment. Responding to a text message, the Deputy Director of Communication of the electoral empire, Mr. Nick Dazang, said, “I’ve read the judgment. INEC as a law abiding Commission will comply.”

But one of the defence counsels, Val Offia, said the judgment was full of errors which will be challenged at the Appeal Court.

While delivering judgment on two separate pre-election suits filed by the Ogar and two indigenes of the state- Obasi Uba Ekeagbara and Chukwuemeka Mba, the Justice Abang said, “Ikpeazu perjured when he swore that he has completed the necessary requirement of the law.

“He has himself to blame here. He ought not to have declared that he fulfilled the requirements of Article 14(a) of Part IV of the PDP Electoral Guidelines for Primary Elections and Section 87(4) (B) of the Electoral Act, 2010, when he has not qualified to participate in the primaries of 8th December, 2014,” he said.

The judge identified seven “clear evidences” of discrepancies in the governor’s tax records, and questioned why tax clearance certificate for three years: 2011, 2012 and 2013 were paid in one day.

The judge noted that the receipt for one of the tax certificates bore the date of December 31, 2011, which was a Saturday, saying: “I am aware that the staff of the department in Abia State cannot work on Saturday.”

Ogar, through his counsel, Alex Izinyon (SAN), had contended that the information submitted to INEC in Form CF001 as it relates to the Abia State Primary Education Board Testimonial number: 194192 was false.

Ogar had challenged the authenticity of the governor’s Income Tax Clearance Certificate with reference number: SPA/HQ/2437, serial number: 095827 showing payment of his income tax for year 2011, 2012 and 2013; the state Pay As You Earn (P.A.Y.E.) receipt no: ITR 0012846 dated 31/12/12; and the P.A.Y.E. with receipt number 31/12/13.

However, in their submissions, defence counsels, Adegboyega Awomolo (SAN), Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN) and Val Offia, told the court that the documents were produced in error because as former government employee, having served as General Manager, Abia State Passengers Integrated Manifest and Safety Scheme (ASPIMSS), and first Deputy General Manager, Abia State Environmental Protection Agency (ASEPA) Aba and Environs, the governor’s tax were deducted at source.

After the judgment, Ogar’s counsel Alex Izinyon II, said the law office will immediately apply for the enrolled order of the court to effect the necessary service on the parties for compliance, maintaining that the judgment was explicit that his client should be returned as the winner of the election.

Speaking on the development, Yusuf Ali (SAN) described the verdict as very fundamental, adding that the parties and their counsels know exactly what to do and how to go about it.

However, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Enyinnaya Apollos in a statement said the governor has appealed to the citizens for calm over the ruling of the Federal High Court.

“Dr Ikpeazu maintains that he remains the Governor of the state according to law and will await the final determination of the matter by the appellate courts,” he said.

23 PDP state chairmen back Makarfi

By Saawua Terzungwe

Twenty-three state chairmen of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have declared their support for the Ahmed Makarfi-led national leadership of the party, saying? the Ali Modu Sheriff-led faction of the party is illegal.

The chairmen’s decision followed a warning by Sheriff that any member of the party supporting Makarfi led PDP would be disciplined.

Appealing to Sheriff to toe the part of peace, the state chairmen, who expressed their solidarity, when they paid a visit to Sen. Markarfi, in Abuja, noted that the caretaker committee was the product of the party’s national convention, which Sheriff was part of.

Speaking on behalf of the chairmen, the FCT chairman of the party, Yunus Suleiman, said “the Port Harcourt Convention was a product of the party’s constitution. All of us were involved, including Ali Modu Sheriff.

“The delegates to the national convention were brought from the 36 states of the federation, including FCT, and we all voted unanimously and endorsed the caretaker committee.

The states that endorsed Makarfi include Nasarawa, Plateau, Enugu, Abia, kaduna, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Kogi, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Bayelsa; Kwara, Benue, Bauchi, Niger, Katsina, Jigawa, Ondo, Adamawa, d Osun and the FCT.

Responding, Makarfi warned that if the crisis in the party persists, the fortunes of the party would be affected in future elections.

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