— As Governor invites Abians, opponents to support development programmes

The Supreme Court has affirmed Okezie Ikeazu as Governor of Abia state just as it advanced reasons justifying its decision to upheld earlier Appeal Court ruling on the matter.

The Appeal Court had on August 18, declared Ikpeazu as the duly elected Abia state Governor under the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), thus reversing the earlier ruling of a Federal High Court nullifying him as Governor.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Federal High Court decision nullifying the election of Abia state governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, for alleged tax evasion is baseless. It contended that the case should not have even come up at all for lack of merit.

Justice Okon Abang of Federal High Court had in a ruling described the emergence of Mr. Ikpeazu as governor of Abia state under the platform of the PDP as null and void.

A businessman and member of the PDP, Samson Ogah, had filed the application challenging the eligibility of Ikpeazu to contest the election on grounds of alleged default in tax.

The Appeal Court on August 18 reversed that decision for lacking in merit.

On Friday, a five-member panel of Supreme court justices led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, upheld the August 18 decision of the Appeal Court.

Justice Onnoghen said: “I’m a government employee and it is also common knowledge that tax is deducted at source,” said Mr. Onnoghen.

“They give you a tax clearance certificate, you are not the person who produced the tax certificate. If they say bring your tax clearance, I have my file and my pay slip, if you ask I will say this is my pay slip.

“If they don’t send it on time I will ask for my tax clearance because I may need it. When they send it to me and there is anything wrong with it, why should I be held responsible? The long and short of it was that this case was a no case.”

Shortly after the ruling, it was greeted with jubilations and commendation to the judiciary.

In a statement, the Governor said he has forgiven those who were bent on distracting him and urged all the people of Abia state, including his opponents to join hands with him in developing the state.

In the statement issued by Governor Ikpeazu’s Chief Press Secretary, Enyinnaya Appolos, he said: “The time for politics is long over, and I have forgiven all those that were bent on distracting me.

“Let all well meaning Abians, including my opponents, come and join us to grow and develop our state without distractions as we ultimately have stakes in the growth and development of our state and people

“Today, there is the work of Abia to do and history will judge us by how much of that work we do, not by how much politics we play.

“My doors are open to all, my ears are open to hear and my eyes are strong enough to read suggestions on how we can best deliver greater dividends to those who really matter: the great people of Abia State.”