Court to rule on Ikpeazu’s motion for stay of execution Thursday
The Abuja Federal High Court will on Thursday hear the motion for stay of execution in the judgment of the court that removed Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu from office.
The motion praying the court to stay the judgment was filed by Ikpeazu through his counsel, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), who led other senior lawyers.
Meanwhile, the matter may take a violent turn as Ukwa Ngwa Youths under the aegis of Supreme Council of Ukwa-Ngwa Youths have threatened to make the state ungovernable if Ikpeazu is removed from office based on the Abuja court order.
In a related development, members of the Eastern Unity Forum (EUF) have demanded the immediate enforcement of the order of an Abuja Federal High Court that removed Ikpeazu from the office.
At the sitting of the court, yesterday, Justice Okon Abang who was scheduled to hear the motion in court fixed hearing for July 7.
The judge said all issues relating to the grant of stay as in the case of election petition will on the said day be determined whether it is applicable to a pre-election matter as in the instant case.
He urged parties in the matter to file an exchange necessary before the adjourned date so as to facilitate early hearing of the motion.
Ikpeazu had in the motion asked Abang to put the judgment which removed him from office on hold pending the determination of his appeal filed at the Court of Appeal.
He told the court that the appeal had been entered at the appellate court and that necessary steps will be taken to facilitate quick determination of the appeal.
It would be recalled that the Federal High Court had on June 27 ordered Ikpeazu to vacate office with immediate effect.
Abang, in his ruling also ordered the governor to hand over to Mr. Samson Ogah, owner of Masters Energy, who came second in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship primaries in the state.
The judge further ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to issue a Certificate of Return to Ogah who contested the governorship ticket with Ikpeazu.
The court held that Ikpeazu was guilty of tax evasion and was therefore not qualified to have contested the 2015 governorship election in the state, which held in April 2015.
The governor, in a notice of appeal filed by Awomolo, raised five grounds of appeal upon which he asked the Court of Appeal to set aside the judgment and orders of the high court.
The youths, who issued their threat while addressing journalists in Umuahia, urged President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently wade into this matter and nip it in the bud to check crisis brewing therefrom in the state.
The National Coordinator of the group, Comrade Kinsley Nna Okadigbo frowned at the “hurried” issuance of certificate of return to Ogah by INEC despite its alleged “receipt of motion for the stay of execution and notice of appeal filed by Ikpeazu on the 28th of June 2016.”
They warned: “The security and safety of oil and gas facilities, staff of the operational joint venture companies in Ukwa-Ngwa nation can no longer be guaranteed if issues raised herein are not redressed in consonance with the rule of law and diligent due process.”
The Eastern Unity Forum on its part said the court order and constitution of the country should be respected in order to avoid anarchy in the state.
Besides, the group described the judgment obtained by Ikpeazu as judicial coup, occasioned by impunity which must not be allowed to stand.
In a statement made available to The Guardian by its National President, Chief Emmanuel Okereke and the National Secretary, Chief Willy Ezugwu, EUF vowed “to mobilise the people to enforce the court judgment if the security agencies failed to do their job.”