Okon Abang, justice of the federal high court, Abuja, has refused to make an order enforcing his previous judgment removing Okezie Ikpeazu as Abia State governor.
Delivering his ruling on Friday, July 8, 2016 Abang held that he had jurisdiction to hear any application against his final judgments.
He said that Order 4 of the appeal court rules did not apply to the case before him.
Abang said that Ikpeazu ran to the appeal court for “stay of execution” of an order removing him as governor instead of coming to him to decide on the matter.
He said all these in response to the argument of Wole Olanipekun, counsel to Ikpeazu, challenging his jurisdiction to hear any application on the matter.
However, he said that based on the submission of Alex Iziyon, counsel to Uche Ogah, the court lacked jurisdiction to take the application for stay of execution, and he would not enter the fray of legal dispute by making a pronouncement.
“Based on Iziyon’s application, I hereby adjourn the proceedings pending the appeal at the appeal court,” Abang held.
Making his argument, Olanipekun said that he had filed a suit at the appeal court to challeng a previous judgment of the court removing his client as governor.
He had argued that based on Order 4 of the appeal court rules, Abang lacked the jurisdiction to hear any application on the case because an appeal had been entered at the appeal court.
He therefore asked Abang to hands off the case because he had become “functus officio.”
“The record of appeal has been transmitted to the court of appeal on July 4. The appeal has been duly entered at the court of appeal. The court appeal is fully seized of this matter,” he said.
But Alex Iziyon, counsel to Ogah, argued that the application constituted an abuse of court process.
“The application constitutes an abuse of court process and contempt of court. At this stage of the proceedings, can this honourable court shut its eye to an issue that borders on abuse?” he asked.
Iziyon asked the judge to make a pronouncement setting aside the order of an Abia high court, restraining the chief judge from swearing in Ogah as the state governor.
“I submit that this issue is still live and your lordship has the exclusive power to deal with it as it borders on integrity and sanctity… and make findings because that is not the issue for the court of appeal,” he said.
“We ask that a pronouncement be made on the order by the Abia high court which is a court of coordinate jurisdiction. We want this court to set aside this order so that we can face the matter at the appeal court.”
On Monday, Abang, had held that he would not set aside his previous order removing Ikpeazu as governor of Abia state.
This was when Ikpeazu, through Olanipekun, filed an application asking the court to vacate the order.
But Abang said that he would not review the order, but that he would hear other applications on the matter on Thursday.
But the matter did not come up until Friday owing to the public holiday.
On June 27, the judge ruled that Ikpeazu was not qualified to hold office as Abia governor because he had filed fake tax certificate before his election in 2015.
He had given the judgment in a suit filed by Ogah, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain, against Ikpeazu.
In the suit, Ogah contended that the governor filled forged tax certificate prior to his election, and as such was not qualified to hold an elective office.
The judge upheld the argument of Ogah, ordering the removal of Ikpeazu.
Abang also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a certificate of return to Ogah, who was first runner in the PDP Abia governorship primary election, as governor of the state.