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

p37 for planning

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 in 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 the 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 was not qualified to contest the primary election of the 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.).

Meanwhile, INEC said it would 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 Ogar and two indigenes of the state – Obasi Uba Ekeagbara and Chukwuemeka Mba – Justice Abang said, “Ikpeazu perjured when he swore that he has completed the necessary requirements 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 a 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 the 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. Makarfi, 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 the 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, Osun and the FCT.

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

APC wades in to save Obaseki

Abbas Jimoh

The national headquarters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has brokered peace among its warring contenders for the Edo State governorship ticket which was won Mr Godwin Obaseki.

Eleven other aspirants contested for the ticket with three of them refusing to accept result declaring Obaseki as the winner.

They alleged irregularities in the conduct of the primary poll.

However, after a meeting hosted by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal, in Abuja, some of the aspirants told reporters that they have all agreed to work for Obaseki’s victory in the September governorship election.

The aspirants said they decided to embrace peace and support Obaseki to avoid losing the only South-south APC state to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

One of the aspirants, Blessing Agbomhere, said that the disagreements among them have been resolved.

“I was very critical before the election and anybody will attest to the fact that I was a very vibrant aspirant during the contest,” she said.

“But, as you can see, I am a man who is loyal to the party. I agree that Obaseki has won and I will do everything possible to support him.

Another aspirant, Peter Esele, who was a former president of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), said that all differences have been resolved.

The deputy national chairman of the APC (South), Segun Oni, said: “Don’t call anybody aggrieved. We can have disagreement as members of the same family. We will resolve our disagreement and work together.”

Others officials at the meeting included the APC national secretary, Alhaji Mai Mala Buni, the deputy governor of Edo State, Pius Odubu, a former minister of state for works, Chris Ogiemwonyi, a former governor of Edo State, Prof Osariemen Osunbor, Kenneth Imasuagbon and Maj-Gen. Charles Airhiabvere (rtd).

Sherrif remains PDP chairman – Rep Agbonayinma

From Usman A. Bello, Benin

A member of the House of Representatives, Ehiozuwa Agbonayinma, representing Egor/Ikpoba Okha Federal Constituency, said that Senator Ali Modu Sheriff remains the authentic national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Agbonayinma, who said this in Benin, weekend, said that the crisis in the PDP was unnecessary, adding: “Until there is a contrary court judgment setting aside the subsisting court ruling, Ali Modu Sheriff remains the chairman of our great party.

Agbonayinma, who picked the Sherriff’s faction nomination and expression of interest forms for the governorship election for Edo State, promised to back down if there was a contrary ruling before the faction’s primary poll scheduled for Wednesday, June 29, 2016.

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