ABIA GOVERNORSHIP TUSSLE: Wait for the courts, FG tells Ikpeazu, Ogah

ABIA GOVERNORSHIP TUSSLE: Wait for the courts, FG tells Ikpeazu, Ogah
CJ denies evading Ogah’s swearing-in
The Federal Gov­ernment has asked embattled Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu and the re­cently declared winner, Mr. Uche Ogah, to allow the courts to determine the au­thentic governor of the state.
In its first major pro­nouncement on the state governorship tussle, the Fed­eral Government, through the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Malam Abubakar Malami, said it was not in­volved in the crisis which led to the Federal High Court’s removal of Ikpeazu from of­fice and the presentation of Certificate of Return to Ogah by the Independent Nation­al Electoral Commission (INEC).
Malami, who spoke on the Abia debacle on Sunday, debunked reports in a sec­tion of the media that the Federal Government has a hand in the crisis.
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja had Monday last week ordered Ikpeazu to va­cate office over discrepan­cies in his tax papers. The judge declared Ogah as the new governor of Abia State and ordered that he should be sworn into office.
Consequently, INEC last Thursday issued a Certificate of Return to Ogah. Prior to INEC’s action, Ikpeazu had gone to the Appeal Court to void the lower court’s ruling.
In a statement he issued through his Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Com­rade Salihu Isah, the Minister of Justice denied any com­plicity in the legal logjam in the state over the governor­ship seat.
Malami advised parties in the suit to await the decision of the courts on the matter.
The statement read: “The attention of the Office of the Honourable Attorney-Gen­eral of the Federation and Minister of Justice has been drawn to the insinuations and crass lies being peddled and disseminated by a cross-section of Nigerians and var­ious media platforms that the Honourable Attorney-Gen­eral of the Federation is be­hind the legal logjam over the Abia State governorship seat; we wish to clarify that those canvassing this position have no basis to do so.
“Of particular concern are those who have peddled ill-natured rumours with a view to misinforming our discerning populace that the Honourable Attorney-Gen­eral of the Federation and by extension, the Federal Gov­ernment of Nigeria gave di­rectives to the Independent National Electoral Commis­sion (INEC) to issue a Certif­icate of Return to Dr. Uche­chukwu Ogah, declaring him Governor-elect. He has def­initely not taken any action either by spoken words or body language as far as this Abia governorship crisis is concerned.
“I wish to, therefore, on behalf of my principal, de­clare that these rumours are untrue and a figment of the imagination of those pushing these selfish, shameless and irredeemable lies into public space which only translates to partisanship on the side of its purveyors.
“As far as the Honourable Attorney-General of the Fed­eration is concerned, the con­stitutional powers for the le­gal opinion of his office have not been invoked on this is­sue. So far, nobody has ap­proached him to proffer any legal opinion to it. As a strong believer in the rule of law, it is his belief that the law should naturally take its course. The Honourable Attorney-Gen­eral of the Federation will not be dragged into this con­troversy and mind-games be­ing played out by the various legal minds and spin doctors of both camps at this point.
“The parties involved should await the decision of the courts. In fact, we wish to, by this statement, warn those who are in the habit of dragging the highly esteemed Office of the Honourable At­torney-General of the Fed­eration and Minister of Jus­tice into knotty issues of this kind, even when it is yet to take a position. They should desist from these unwarrant­ed presumptions henceforth.”
CJ denies evading Ogah’s swearing-in
Meanwhile, the Chief Judge of Abia State, Justice Theresa Uzoamaka Uzok­we, has denied that she went underground to avoid swear­ing-in Ogah as governor.
In a press release by the Chief Registrar, Abia State Judiciary, Mrs. Vicky Anal­aba, the Chief Judge said that she was in her office throughout the official work­ing hours on Thursday, June 30, 2016 (the day she alleged­ly absconded to avoid swear­ing-in Ogah).
Uzokwe described the allegations as spurious and mischievous, stressing that contrary to the allegations of cowardice by mischie­vous politicians, she was in her office last Thursday from 8:30am till 4:30pm.
The chief listed the cas­es she heard on that the said day to prove that she was on her desk.
Abia govt alleges plot to kidnap judiciary officers
And as tension mounts in Abia, the state government on Sunday asserted that it had uncovered plots by some desperate politicians to kid­nap its judicial officers.
The government, in a press statement issued by Ik­peazu’s Chief Press Secre­tary, Mr. Enyinnaya Apollos, appealed to security agencies to “increase surveillance and protection services around all the judicial officers in the state.”
This is coming barely 48 hours after the South East legal Adviser to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Ukpai Ukairo, was ab­ducted by gunmen suspected to be kidnappers.
The state government warned those behind the plot to retrace their steps or be ready to face the wrath of the law.

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