Posted by Boniface Okoro, Umuahia | 1 July 2016 | 3,113 times
Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, says the attempt to topple his administration illegality would not succeed.
Addressing newsmen late Friday morning, Ikpeazu who was making his first formal reaction to the political development in Abia, assured Abians that he would resolutely defend the mandate they freely gave to him and his Deputy in April last year.
Abia State has been under tension since Thursday following the issuance of Certificate of Return to Dr Uchechukwu Sampson Ogah by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in Abuja as the governor of Abia State,
News Express reports that an Abuja Federal High Court presided over by Justice Okon Abang, had, in a suit filed by Ogah against Ikpeazu, ruled that the Abia governor supplied false information to INEC about his tax and was therefore, not qualified to be presented by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as its candidate for the 2015 governorship election in Abia. Okon ordered Ikpeazu to vacate his seat since he was not qualified to stand for PDP’s governorship primary election.
The court ordered INEC to immediately present a Certificate of Return to Ogah who came second in the primaries while he should be sworn in as Abia Governor.
Ikpeazu maintained that the attempt by Ogah to climb to power through the backdoor would not pull through, saying that even if the court judgement was a death sentence, he reserved the right to appeal.
He disabused the minds of Abians about the rumours making the rounds that the current political episode going on in the state was being sponsored by the federal government. The governor emphatically insisted that given the anti-corruption stance of the President Mohammadu Buhari-led federal government, they could not sponsor such a move.
Below is a full text of Ikpeazu’s briefing where he told Abians that he was still the governor of the state and urged for calm:
“I want to inform the public, especially NdiAbia, that we are okay. We had a temporary setback which you people are well aware of, when somebody who did not run an election surreptitiously planned to ambush the mandate which Abia people freely gave us on the 11th and 25th of April last year.
“Somebody who never campaigned, somebody that was not tested by the Abia public, his acceptability was not tried and he surreptitiously arranged and got judgment and then the roll order for that judgment was released before the details of the judgment itself, which is also procedurally wrong in law, all geared towards railroading him into Government House, Umuahia, against the will and mandate of the people.
“The tenets of democracy is very clear and that the will of the people is sacrosanct and the aim of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the Electoral Act is to protect the sacred will of the people, such that you are required to run an election, pass that election, the election will be tried through the tribunals, up to the Supreme Court and then the verdicts will eventually affirm the will of the people.
“All these, as you are aware, we have all gone through. Since the past one year, we have been through this process and at this hour, somebody decided to bring in something that is strange to the law.
“And we are baffled by the urgency and the desperation to bounce into Government House and when we put it side-by-side with the various criminal charges which we are aware, bordering on all kinds of things which are subsisting in various courts in Lagos, at least, 12 criminal charges in different courts in Lagos and elsewhere, against this same person, it becomes a little bit clearer why the desperation in the first place, probably to get a veil of immunity to run away from the certainty of court decision, for or against him, as it were.
“What is on trial is our democracy. It is not about me as a person but about the will of the people of Abia State. And why it is very difficult for Abia people to accept is that everybody knows very well that I have been working for government in this environment.
“I did not come from elsewhere and my last duty post which was ASEPA, Aba was such a job that everybody saw, even on the streets, while I was doing it. And so for somebody to come and say that I have problems with my tax, to Abia people, it is strange because they know where I was working and they know that government was paying me and the Board of Internal Revenue, whose duty it is to assess and levy tax, has come out with an affidavit to say, yes, these document were issued by us. So, if there are questions to be asked, the Board of Internal Revenue are the people to answer the question.
“To that extent, I want to assure you that we are resolute in our determination to defend the mandate which was freely given to us by Abia people. There is a court order restraining the Chief Judge or any legal officer anywhere in Nigeria from swearing in somebody.
“There is no doubt about who is in charge and who is governor because you people witnessed the day we were sworn in. You people also witnessed when we took the Oath of Allegiance and no other person has taken that oath on behalf of the position of governor of Abia State.
“As far as we are concerned, we want to call for calm and I want thank, especially the youths of Abia State for their decorum and good conduct since this unwarranted provocation. I want to continue to urge them to remain peaceful and law-abiding.
“Today, Abia State is one of the Niger Delta states but I say that we are perhaps, the only Niger Delta state where all the federal oil pipelines remain intact. The issue of militancy, sabotaging the economy of Nigeria has not crept into Abia State as yet and I am very very proud of our young ones.
“I ask them to remain calm and decorous in their conduct because Abia is a peace-loving state, were are peace-loving people.
“I want to assure you that this illegality will not stand but I will test it through the Appeal Court or up to the Supreme Court and if need be, let all Abians remain calm, until the final verdict at the Supreme Court.
“Even if it was a death sentence, I don't think that I have to be executed without right of appeal and that right is undeniable, that right is fundamental. Denial of the right is denial of my fundamental right and I will resist it and I know that all well-meaning Nigerians will resist it.
“I want to dissuade the rumour that is making rounds everywhere that some people are sponsoring this, I don’t think it is true because we understand the position of the government at the federal level against corruption and they cannot support the veil, somebody battling to wear the toga of immunity just because the person wants to run away from the certainty of justice.
“I don’t think that is the path the Federal Government would like to toe. It is antithetical to the belief and framework of the present administration and I urge you to also continue to project the positive sides of Abia and criticise us if we have done anything in terms of our policies. Abia is on track, your mandate is safe, God be with you. Thank you very much.”
•Photo shows Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu (middle), addressing a press conference in Government House Umuahia Friday morning. With him on the right is his deputy, Sir Ude Oko Chukwu, and on the right Rt. Hon. Cosmos Ndukwe, Deputy Speaker, Abia State House of Assembly. Photo: Ibeabuchi Abarikwu.
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