Respite came the way of the Abia State
gubernatorial logjam on Tuesday July 26,
2016, when the Justice Morenike
Ogunwumiju-led five-man panel of the
Appeal Court sitting in Abuja, ordered all
parties involved in the power tussle to
“remain as they were” before the case
was brought to the court.
Though the Judge clarified that this order
was not to be misconstrued as a stay of
execution of the judgement pronounced
by Justice Okon Abang of the Abuja High
Court ordering Dr Uche Ogah, a
contestant to the post to be immediately
sworn in, it allows Governor Okezie
Ikpeazu to remain in office (for the
meantime) thus foreclosing a power
vacuum in the state.
This governorship debacle remains a
major litmus test for the judiciary and
indeed the nation’s fledgling democracy.
On Monday June 27, 2016, Justice Abang
had sacked Ikpeazu as Abia Governor
and given a consequential order to the
Independent National Electoral
Commission (INEC) to issue a fresh
Certificate of Return to Ogah to be sworn-
in as Governor.
Ogah came second in the December 8,
2014 Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP)
governorship primaries. He alleged that
Ikpeazu forged the tax clearance
certificate and failed to file same for 2011,
2012 and 2013. Ogah, through his team
of lawyers further alleged that all the
payments Ikpeazu made before the PDP
2014 primaries were done in one day, a
Saturday. The court ruled in favour of the
plaintiff and declared the defendant
ineligible to contest the 2015
governorship election.
Intense legal and political fireworks have
flown from both camps since the
judgment was delivered. Two other court
pronouncements came from Abia and Imo
States after that of Abuja. The political
space in Abia is suffused with tension as
the contenders lay claim to the Governor’s
The situation which Abia State finds itself
would have been avoided if due diligence
was observed in the build-up to the PDP
governorship primaries in 2014. This
logjam which brought governance to a
standstill compounded situations in the
state. Abia is among the 27 States which
are unable to pay workers’ salaries.
Now that the Court of Appeal has waded
into the issue, the parties to this dispute
must refrain from further actions that
could thwart the course of justice. They
must be patient until all the legal
processes are exhausted and a final
decision made.
We call on the Attorney General of the
Federation, President of the Court of
Appeal and the Chief Justice of Nigeria to
ensure that the case is given accelerated
We also urge the National Judicial Council
(NJC) to take appropriate measures
against judges who fail to take judicial
notice of judgments and rulings of courts
of co-ordinate jurisdiction.