Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia state has reacted to a ruling by the Appeal court sitting in Owerri, Imo state capital, which nullified his election.
Ikpeazu, the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) at the April 11 Abia state governorship election and the April 25 supplementary election, was sacked by the Appeal Court, which announced Alex Otti of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) as the winner of the election.
However, reacting to the ruling in a statement made available to newsmen, Ikpeazu said: “I have just been informed that the Court of Appeal sitting at Owerri has nullified my victory as the duly elected Governor of Abia State and ordered that one of my opponents at the election, Dr. Alex Otti should be sworn in as the winner of the election.
“As of this moment, I have not received the full briefing on the reason for the decision of the Court of Appeal but my Lawyers are still at the Court waiting to obtain a copy of the Judgment for further studying and it is past 7pm. The next 4 days are Public Holidays and the timing of the judgment means that we are losing valuable days to study the judgment and file our Appeal.
“I wish to state at this point that preliminary reports available to me indicate that the premise upon which the decision of the Court of Appeal was arrived at is at best tenuous.
“That being said, I wish to express my utmost confidence in the ability of the Justices of the Supreme Court to correct the anomaly at the Court of Appeal and uphold my victory as had been earlier done by the Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Umuahia.
“In the interim, while I have instructed my Lawyers to take steps to file an immediate Appeal at the Supreme Court, I wish to assure all Abians that all is well. I remain the Governor of Abia State until the Supreme Court reaffirms my mandate which was freely given to me by the good people of Abia State during the elections.
“I call on the Security Agencies to maintain the peace in Abia state and ensure that people go about their legitimate businesses without fear of disruption from any quarters. I also call on our supporters to remain calm in the face of provocation.
“I remain supremely confident that at the end of the day, victory shall be ours. I thank you all for listening and wish you a prosperous 2016.”
Delivering judgment in an appeal filed by Alex Otti, the five-member panel, headed by Justice Oyebisi Omoleye, said the APGA candidate scored 164, 444 valid votes to defeat Mr. Ikpeazu who scored 114, 444 votes.
The court declared that Otti was the winner of the April 11 and April 25 supplementary elections in Abia.
Justice Omoleye said the cancellation of the elections held in three LGAs of Obingwa, Osisioma Ngwa and Isiala Ngwa by the returning officers after the results were uploaded to INEC was wrong.
The appellate court maintained that the lower tribunal erred by not handling all the issues raised before it on their merit.