The leadership imbroglio in Abia state over who should be granted the mantle to govern the south-east state will have to persist till on Thursday, July 7, when the Federal High Court in Abuja, will rule on the suit filed by the embattled Okezie Ikpeazu.
The court on Monday said it would rule on the application filed by Mr. Ikpeazu, whose election was annulled and certificate of return withdrawn on Thursday.
Mr. Ikpeazu had filed the stay-of-execution application days after the court sacked him from office for failing to pay his personal income tax as at when due.
Justice Okon Abang, had, in his judgment delivered on June 27, sacked Ikpeazu for allegedly disclosing false information in relation to his tax clearance details to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in his form nominating him as the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the 2015 governorship election in the state.
The court then ordered the INEC to issue a Certificate of Return to Uche Ogah on June 30, recognising him as the governor-elect of Abia State.
In a swift reaction to the judgment, Ikpeazu filed an appeal before the Appeal Court in Abuja. He also filed a motion for stay of execution of the judgment at the Federal High Court.
While Ogah immediately headed to Abia to be sworn in as governor, the State High Court, on the spur of the moment, issued an injunction stopping the state’s chief judge or any other judicial official in the state from administering the oath of office on him, pending the determination of the motion on notice at the Court of Appeal.
“Upon this motion ex-parte pursuant to section 143 (1) & (2) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and pending the determination of the motion on notice, after hearing O.O Nkume, counsel to the applicant,” Justice Chibuzo Ahuchaogu said.
“It is ordered that an order of injunction is hereby made restraining the 2nd defendant (INEC) from issuing a certificate of return to the 1st defendant (Ogah) while the claimant (Ikpeazu) remains in office in accordance with section 143 (1) & (2) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and pending the determination of the motion on notice.
“It is further ordered that the 3rd defendant (chief judge of Abia State) or any other judge of the court or any judiciary officer are hereby restricted from swearing-in the 1st defendant (Ogah) while the claimant (Ikpeazu) remains in office in accordance with section 143 (1) & (2) of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended) and pending the determination of the motion on notice.”
Consequently, the state has remained without a clear supreme executive till perhaps on Thursday.