It is no longer news that the political situation in Abia State had thrown up two governors. One is the defacto, the other dejure. It is also note worthy that both sides of the divides had thrown up issues albeit from the sublime to the extreme to justify their rights to the leadership of the state .
The crisis of confidence arose from the challenge by Mr. Uche Ogah of the eligibility of Governor Ikpeazu to stand as the Candidate of the PDP. His main grouse is that Ikpeazu by virtue of INEC declaration is not qualified to contest because of his failure to pay his tax as at when due. Ogah’s contention was that the three years tax certificate provided by Ikpeazu was issued in a day. The matter was fought from the Federal High Court up to the Supreme Court.
I was present at the Supreme Court when this suit was eventually decided. Dr. Alex Iziyon SAN appeared for Ogah while Mr. Oladipo Olasope and myself appeared for INEC. The Supreme Court while upholding Ogar’s appeal lampooned INEC as the real harbinger of the needless trouble as they should have exercise their power by doing the needful. In the word of the Supreme Court, it is unfathomable to discover that a candidate who wants to be a governor could not pay his tax as and when due. The Supreme Court agreed with the learned SAN contention that from the exhibit before them, it was clear that the three years tax certificate was procured in one day. What is more, the serial number of the certificates followed one another. The Supreme Court therefore returned the suit back to the trial court for retrial.
One would have expected Governor Ikpeazu to have sought for political solution to the issue having read the body language of the apex court. Governor Ikpeazu should have Sat down with Ogah for some sort of political solution by way of agreement and compromises. The Governor should have come down from his high horse to ensure that Ogah withdraw the case from the court.
I also learnt that in an attempt to frustrate the effort of Ogah to reap the fruit of his labour, the Abia State PDP had expelled him from the party. This to my mind is a sheer waste of time as the PDP had traversed the wrong road in 2007 when Ifeanyi Ararume was treated in the same way and the court nullified his expulsion in Ararume v. INEC &2 Ors (2007) 9NWLR (Pt. 1038) pg. 1277.
It is also laughable reading some publications laying Abia crisis at the door step of the APC. It is a lazy attempt to explain a failure by the PDP to arrest the ugly situation when occasion demands.
The resort to declaration of two day public holiday, black market injunction and filing of stay of execition of judgment is a mere postponement of the dooms day. The reality is that Governor Ikpeazu actually shot himself in the leg by his failure to act when it is necessary.
This is a lesson for those who think power is everything, a stitch in time they say saves nine.
Ibrahim Lawal is a legal practitioner based in Ibadan.
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