The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice in Nigeria, Mr. Abubakar Malami, has ordered th sack of Governor Victor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia state.
The AG and minister, through his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Salihu Isah, said on Sunday that he is yet to offer any legal opinion on the developments following the June 27 judgment that sacked Governor Ikpeazu, asking parties to the case to await decisions of the court.
The judge, in his judgment, ordered the governor’s foremost rival who was the first runner-up in the primary that produced Ikpeazu as the candidate of the PDP, Mr. Uche Ogah, to takeover the office of the governor, Abia State.
Justice Abang had sacked Ikpeazu for allegedly disclosing false information in relation to his tax clearance details to the Independent National Electoral Commission in his form nominating him as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party for the last year’s governorship election in the state.
The AG held that Ikpeazu was not qualified to be PDP’s candidate having disclosed false information to INEC in violation of his party’s election guideliness and the Electoral Act and thereby ordered that Ogah be sworn in as governor in Ikpeazu’s stead.
Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Dr. Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) while lending his voice to the controversy trailing the sack of governor Ikpeazu in Abuja. “I don’t know the grounds with which the other order from Abia State was obtained by one of the parties. But I do know that a judgment was given and a certificate of return was issued by INEC in Abuja. If they want to stay that order they have to go to the very court that passed the judgment.
“It is procedurally wrong to want to arrest that judgment us- ing another court of coordinate jurisdiction. The order of the Federal High Court in Abuja should be obeyed.
“A Notice of Appeal is clearly not a Stay and INEC has broken no Law in issuing Certificate of Return to Ogah. But they should have relied on the prudential principle by cautioning themselves, giving the fact that they have received a Notice of Appeal, which in itself, does not constitute a stay of execution of the order of the court. However INEC has broken no law by issuing the certificate of return to Ogah,”Agbakoba said.
This elicited tension and a stalemate situation in the state when on Wednesday, the INEC, acting on the judgment, issued a certificate of return to Ogah, paving the way for him to be sworn in as governor.
Malami, in the statement issued by his media aide on Sunday, denied having a hand in INEC’s decision to issue a certificate of return to Ogah.
Isah said the INEC is yet to seek the minister’s opinion on the issue and that the minister had yet to offer any.
He described as “crass lies” alleged insinuations “being peddled and disseminated by a cross-section of Nigerians and the various media platforms that the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation is behind the legal logjam over the Abia state governorship seat.”