My attention was drawn to the above article written by one Chinelo Obogo who did not specify who he is in terms of profession so that his reasonings and logic could be properly assessed.
However reading through the said article, one can safely conclude that he may be a lawyer but one who has deliberately decided to turn the law up side down for pure selfish reason.
His appreciation of the logic of the Electoral Laws to say the least is very unsatisfactory. It is obvious from his conclusion that he needs help hence this bold attempt to put facts, records and law straight in the interest of people who may be misled by that fallacious write up.
What is presently pending before the Supreme Court in Dr Uche Ogah and Dr Okezie Ikpeazu’s matter is a pre election matter pure and simple.
A bit of history will be very appropriate here. In December 2014, PDP of Abia State conducted their gubernatorial primaries in which Dr Okezie Ikpeazu allegedly came first, while Dr Uche Ogah emerged second in that contest.
Sir Friday Nwosu who is also a party in the suit pending at the Supreme Court came distant fourth, Infact he tied with another candidate in that position.
Dr Uche Samson Ogah verbally and in writing protested the outcome of the primaries alleging all the glaring irregularities that were observed during the said primaries but was ignored by the Party in their usual manner(such impunity is still hunting the Party till date).
Those who participated in the primary election were witnesses to the darkness that enveloped the entire Abia that day Dr Ikpeazu was announced the winner of the said primary election.
In fact the whole observers and the entire youths of Abia ended and camped at the Campaign Secretariat of Dr Ogah, wailing,weeping and bemoaning their ill fate over a system that allowed the emergence of a candidate whose apron strings is tied to the most incompetent government of former Governor of the State Mr. T.A. Orji.
The Abians are yet to get over the shock and tragedy that befell them on that date.
Dr Ogah took a stock of the entire process and found so many facts that made him believe that Dr Ikpeazu was not qualified to run for the office of governor of Abia State.
He found issues on educational qualification, he found issues on the primary election in which Abia State government officials freely voted without being elected to vote and there was no single accreditation of proper voters on that day.
He found issues(several) of them on the tax papers of Dr Ikpeazu and decided to concentrate on that one that have several proofs as it was very glaring and embarrassing.
Dr Ikpeazu submitted tax papers in which he claimed to be a businessman and the payments were totally doctored. When that fraud was discovered both at PDP and INEC, he paid so much to have them withdrawn.
In fact he shamelessly stated in paper and in several media platforms that someone whose name is Dr Okezie Ikpeazu faked his own name Dr Okezie Ikpeazu and went and submitted his tax papers as his own! Wonders will never end.
As he withdrew the earlier one and submitted another one in which he claimed to be a civil servant, it turned out that the second one was more damaging, more incriminating and more embarrassing than the first.
He applied to INEC and PDP and got all the CTC of the second tax papers which showed that the 3 years tax were paid in one day and weekends were days of payment. Not only that, his supposed annual salary and his assessed tax payments were at variance as between North and South poles.
Everything about the tax payment of Dr Ikpeazu who is supposed to be a governor of a State was fraudulent, deceitful, dishonest and full of lies.
HE DR IKPEAZU THEREAFTER SWORE TO AN AFFIDAVIT THAT WHATEVER INFORMATION HE HAS GIVEN CONCERNING HIS TAX PAYMENTS WERE TRUE AND CORRECT AND THAT IF AT ANYTIME THE INFORMATION HE HAS SUPPLIED ABOUT HIS TAX PAYMENTS AND OTHER INFORMATION ARE FOUND TO BE UNTRUE, HE SHOULD BE LIABLE TO BE DISQUALIFIED AS THE CANDIDATE OF PDP FOR THEPRIMARIES.
He signed and dated it and swore to it before a judge of the High Court in Abia State. The truth of the matter is that no tax was paid by Dr Ikpeazu, he knows it and his sponsors know it. These things were doctored and the young man who did it for them at the Board of internal Revenue has been sacked and asked to go out of circulation not to incriminate them.
All these facts are known to every Abians. A government built on dishonesty and deceit will collapse without remedy as there is no foundation upon which it can stand.
When he found out all these facts he felt that such a person that is not qualified to be the governor of our State should not be there and action was commenced before the General Election of 2015. The action was filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
The issue of jurisdiction came up in a sister case filed by a PDP member in Abia by one Mr Ekeagbara which case went to Supreme Court where the Court ruled in favour of jurisdiction for the Federal High Court and ordered that the case and that of Dr Uche Ogah should be given expeditious hearing since the issue raised are grave and serious pertaining to the office of the governor of a State!
In the general election of 2015, Dr Ikpeazu purportedly won against the APGA candidate one Dr Alex Otti. The APGA candidate took the matter to court and went as far as the Supreme Court.
At the Supreme Court it was held that Dr Ikpeazu won the general election and that he Dr Otti was unable to proof that he should be declared the winner.
This is an intra party fight for which the right of Dr Otti has been exhausted since the Supreme Court is the final arbiter on electoral matters involving governors.
One is clearly amazed that Dr Otti is presently seeking to be an appellant in the case of Dr Ogah and Dr Ikpeazu arguing that the PDP no longer had a candidate since their candidate Dr Ikpeazu was disqualified by virtue of his lies under oath concerning his tax payments!
As at 27th of January, 2017, Dr Otti has been joined as a party for the appeal on the ground that he should be heard since fair hearing is a fundamental human right under our constitution.
Fair and good! However what the Supreme Court will do after hearing his own side of the story is another topic for another day.
But suffice to say that what is presently pending before the Supreme Court is A PRE ELECTION MATTER INVOLVING MEMBERS OF A POLITICAL PARTY (HEREIN PDP) WHICH SEVERAL SUPREME COURT JUDGEMENTS HAVE AFFIRMED AS PROPER EVEN AFTER GENERAL ELECTION HAS HELD AND RESULTS ANNOUNCED , AND NOT A POST ELECTION MATTER WHICH THIS SAME SUPREME COURT HAD CONCLUDED IN AKEX OTTI VS IKPEAZU AND OTHERS!
Back to Uche Ogah and Ikpeazu case, at the Federal High Court, Abuja Justice Okon Abang faulted the alleged tax payments of Dr Ikpeazu as it was mired with several irregularities, lies and false information and under Section 31(6) of the Electoral Act 2010 as amended the ousted governor was disqualified from contesting the primary election.
What this meant is that Dr Ikpeazu was not qualified to have run for the primaries in December 2014 and since he was submitted as the candidate of PDP in the general election and won which victory has been affirmed by the Supreme Court in the Otti’s case, the proper order to make is to order the candidate of PDP with the second highest vote(herein Dr Ogah) to be issued with the certificate of return and be sworn in since he should have been the proper candidate the Party should have submitted in the first place.
The judge, Justice Abang so held that Dr UCHE OGAH IS THE RIGHT CANDIDATE AND THEREFORE THE RIGHT GOVERNOR TO BE SWORN IN ABIA STATE AND NOT DR OKEZIE IKPEAZU.
The judgment of the Court of Appeal was based purely on technicality and did not deal with the substance of the case and so does not merit much consideration here.
The Court of Appeal lost that golden opportunity in our legal history which I know and I am sure will be seized by the Supreme Court to lay to rest the jurisprudence surrounding tax payments of Public Officers especially where there is evidence of falsehood, lies, deception and misrepresentation by the candidate under the constitution and Electoral Act.
Before I conclude this article I need to lay to rest three issues that some people are confused about and those who should know are deliberately spreading wrong information about of them.
One is the issue whether one can be disqualified under the constitution on the issue of Tax non payments taking into cognizance the provisions of S177 and S182 of the 1999 constitution?
The second one is the issue of whether a candidate who did not contest the general election can be declared the winner of an election?
And whether the decision of Prof Ayade’s case has any effect with regard to Dr Uche and Dr Ikpeazu’s
The first one, a look at S177(c) of 1999 constitution provides that a candidate for governorship can only be qualified to run if he is a member of a political party and is sponsored by that political party.
What this means is that if a member of a political party fails, neglects and or refuses to comply with the laid down rules of the party leading to qualification to run, then that member or person is not a candidate of the political party.
The PDP Guidelines of 2014 provided that the candidate must show evidence of having paid his or her tax.
In fact in article 14(a) of the PDP Guidelines it was stated clearly that if a candidate fails to pay his tax, he or she shall be disqualified. It is there in black and white as we say in this part of the world.
The findings of the court was that no tax was actually paid, the documents were mere concoctions and therefore makes that candidate unqualified to be sponsored by the political party in question.
Therefore the issue of Tax finds legal backing under S177(c of the 1999 constitution. See also S182(j) of 1999 constitution. That latter section is applicable where you allege forgery( which was not the case of Dr Ogah) and for which you must prove beyond reasonable doubt.
Dr Ogah never alleged forgery but FALSE INFOMATION by the candidate who swore to an oath that if information he has given is found to be false he should be DISQUALIFIED!.
The second issue is on whether a candidate who did not contest general election can be ordered by the court to be sworn in as a winner?
Several Supreme Court cases like Rotimi Amaechi v INEC and the latest decision of the Supreme Court in Jev V Iyortom have settled the issue with all finality. It is capital YES, provided that the candidate is the right candidate the political party that won the election should have submitted to INEC in the absence of the winner whose victory is tainted.
Finally on the latest decision of the Supreme Court on Ayade’s case, the current governor of Cross River State v Agi SAN viz a viz Ogah/Ikpeazu’s case. My take is that there is no similarity at all.
In Ayade’s case the allegation was false information on the issue of age and issue of non payment of the party’s registration fees, whereas Ikpeazu’s case was false information on tax payments.
The court in Ayade’s case found that the age that was alleged to have been falsified was not to the advantage of the candidate as he was qualified with the alleged falsified age but in Ikpeazu’s case the issue was that of several false information of tax payments pertaining to amount, dates, code especially when the entire tax of three years were paid in one day!
We await eagerly the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court of Nigeria on this very important constitutional matter that will shape our morality, integrity, honesty and spirit of the nation and her leaders over basic things as the PAYMENT OF TAX WHICH REVENUE IS USED TO RUN GOVERNMENTS! Let the Supreme Court speak!