The Federal High Court, sitting in Abuja, has annulled the election of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, the News Agency of Nigeria is reporting.
The court also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission to issue a certificate of return to Samson Ogah, a member of the Peoples Democratic Party, who contested the governorship ticket with the governor.
The court held that Mr. Ikpeazu was guilty of tax evasion and was therefore unqualified to have contested the 2015 governorship election in the state.
The court also ordered the governor to vacate office immediately, and hand over to Mr. Ogah, owner of Masters Energy, who came second in the PDP governorship primaries in Abia.
Mr. Ikpeazu is yet to comment on the judgment.
Two members of the PDP had accused Mr. Ikpeazu of failing to pay personal income tax promptly as and when due for 2010 and 2011 in line with Section 24(f) of the 1999 Constitution, which states that “It shall be the duty of every citizen to … declare his income honestly to appropriate and lawful agencies and pay his tax promptly.”
In suit no. FHC/ABJ/ CS/1086/2014, dated December 22, 2014, and instituted at the Federal High Court, Abuja, two individuals, Obasi Eke and Chukwuemeka Mba, had asked the PDP and INEC to disqualify Mr. Ikpeazu from contesting the governorship election.
They further asked the court for “A declaration that the 3rd defendant (Mr. Ikpeazu), having failed and/or refused to pay his personal income tax promptly as and when due for the years 2010 and 2011 in compliance with the mandatory provisions of Section 24(f) of the CFRN, 1999, as amended, as well as Paragraph 13 of Part IV of the Electoral Guidelines for Primary Elections 2014, is not a fit and proper person to contest the gubernatorial election of Abia State in the 2015 general election, and is accordingly disqualified from contesting the election.”
They also asked for an order barring the PDP from presenting Mr Ikpeazu as candidate for governor in the 2015 election.
Other reliefs sought by the plaintiffs included an order barring INEC from accepting Mr. Ikpeazu as Abia State PDP governorship candidate for the 2015 election.
They also requested a consequential order that the candidate at the PDP primary election of December 8, 2014, who polled the second highest number of votes cast at the said election should be pronounced the rightful candidate of the party for the governorship election in Abia State.