Posted by Boniface Okoro, Umuahia | 28 June 2016 | 2,007 times
Mixed reactions have continued to trail the ruling by an Abuja Federal High Court which declared that Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, was not qualified to contest the 2016 gubernatorial poll in the state on the grounds of tax evasion.
At the Government House in Umuahia, everywhere was calm, while civil servants went about their normal duties. The city centre was equally calm but the Uche Ogah Campaign office near Isi-Gate which looked deserted in recent times, bubbled with life as supporters of Dr. Sampson Uchechukwu Ogah, who dragged Ikpeazu to court, were seen jubilating in connection with the victory of their principal. Ogah is Ikpeazu’s arch rival in the PDP.
But Governor Ikpeazu, in a swift reaction, enjoined Abias not to panic as he was still the governor of the state. Reacting through his Chief Press Secretary, Enyinnaya Appolos, who issued a four-paragraph statement in Umuahia, moments after the Abuja court ruling became public knowledge, Ikpeazu said he would appeal the judgment.
Below is the text of the press statement issued by the CPS:
“The Governor of Abia State, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, has called on Abians not to panic, but remain calm over the judgment of Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court Abuja delivered today in favour of Mr. Uche Ogah against him, in the case of alleged falsification of tax receipts.
“Governor Ikpeazu, who said that he has faith in the judiciary and rule of law, added that he will appeal the ruling as he has instructed his lawyers to file an appeal immediately against the said judgment.
“The Governor noted as an appointee of the Abia State Government from 2011 to 2014, when he served as the 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 respectively, before his resignation in October 2014 to contest the Governorship election in the state, that within the period, his taxes were deducted at source, and when he had need of his tax clearance in 2014, he applied to the Abia State Board of Internal Revenue, and was duly issued with his tax receipts for the period in question.
“He maintained that he remains the Governor of the state according to law and will await the final determination of the matter by the appellate courts.”
Also reacting, a middle-aged woman who does not want her name in print, expressed scepticism over the ruling, saying Abians had witnessed the drama of the December 31st, 2015 ruling which did not materialise.
A trader, Mr. Ikechi Nwafor, said the Abuja Federal High Court ruling does not call for celebration, since Ikpeazu still remains the Governor of Abia, citing the last December judgement by the Owerri Appeal Court that removed Ikpeazu and was greeted with wild jubilation across the state and which was reversed by the Supreme Court on February 3, 2016.
He said until the case was finally disposed off, there was no cause for any form of celebration.
Adiele Nwachukwu, an Ukwa/Ngwa and Ikpeazu’s kinsman said the various election-related litigations were militating against the progress of Abia. However, the situation was different at the Uche Ogah Campaign Office on Item Street in Umuahia where his supporters were seen distributing posters which their principal had printed in anticipation of his emergence as the Abia PDP governorship candidate. The Posters read “Vote Uche Ogah”.
•Photo shows Governor Ikpeazu.
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