Tuesday, June 28, 2016

COURT RULING: I'm still in charge - Gov Ikpeazu

The Abia State Gover­nor, Dr. Okezie Ikpea­zu, has affirmed that he is still in charge in the state – despite a court or­der directing his removal from office.
He urged the people of the state to remain calm and go about their lawful activi­ties, saying he has instructed his lawyers to lodge an appeal against the judgement of Jus­tice Okon Abang of the Feder­al High Court, Abuja, which di­rected his removal from office over alleged tax evasion.
In a swift reaction to the court’s verdict that he should va­cate his office, Governor Ikpeazu urged the people not to panic as he was still in charge of the affairs of the state.



In a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Enyin­naya Appolos, the governor said he had faith in the judiciary and the rule of law, adding that he would appeal against the judgement.
The statement read in part: “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 has faith in the judiciary and rule of law, has instructed his lawyers to file an appeal immediately against the said judgment”.
The governor noted that he duly met his tax obligations 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.
He said that within the period, his taxes were deducted at source, and when he had need of his tax clearance certificate 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.
Justice Abang had yesterday ordered Ikpeazu to leave office for submitting a false tax clearance certificate to the People’s Demo­cratic Party (PDP) for the gov­ernorship primaries in Decem­ber 2014.
Delivering a judgment in the pre-election suit, Justice Okon or­dered the Independent Nation­al Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately issue a certificate of return to Ogah, who polled the second highest number of votes in the PDP primary election held on December 8, 2014.
He also ordered the PDP to forward Ogah’s name to INEC as the lawful candidate for the state’s governorship election held in April 2015.
The court held that Ikpea­zu did not pay taxes as at when due between 2011 and 2013, and that the governor was issued tax receipts on the same day for the various years he defaulted.
There was, however, an un­easy calm at the Abia Government House, Umuahia, as the news of the governor’s removal filtered into the state.
As soon as the social me­dia broke the news about 10am, the mood in the seat of power changed as some government of­ficials were seen discussing the de­velopment in hushed tones.
But Ikpeazu’s timely statement brought calm to the state.
Meanwhile, there was jubila­tion at the Umuahia Campaign Headquarters of Uche Ogah lo­cated at Umuwaya by Item Street.


When Authority.com vis­ited the office to capture the mood, his supporters, workers of the of­fice and some passers-by sympa­thetic to his cause were seen cele­brating the judgement.
The PDP has, however, ex­pressed concerns over the devel­opment and vowed to support Ikpeazu until the judgment is up­turned.
The state PDP Chairman, Chief Johnson Onuigbo, told The AUTHORITY: “Naturally, we are worried but there is no cause for alarm because the situation is un­der control.
“We are solidly with the gov­ernor and we believe that the Ap­peal Court will nullify the judg­ment”.
He said that Ikpeazu was the party’s authentic candidate at the election and that his mandate could not be stolen midway.
Asked if the party had plans to reach Ogah for a political solu­tion, he said: “That is in the womb of time.”

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