ABIA STATE | Hearing stalls on guber appeal

Hearing in the Abia State governorship appeal yesterday stalled at the Supreme Court as one of the justices on the panel of the apex court that was to hear the appeal withdrew from it.

Justice Amina Augie yesterday excused herself from the Supreme Court panel, saying that her decision to pull out was due to allegations of bias leveled against her by one of the parties in the matter.

The justice said she could no longer sit on the panel hearing the appeals filed by Samson Ogah, as well as the one by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the ground that there was a sentiment expressed by one of the parties in a previous sister case.

She disclosed that a party had accused her of influencing the constitution of a four-member panel of justices of the Court of Appeal that heard the petition challenging the election of Okezie Ikpeazu as governor of Abia State, in Owerri, the Imo State capital, where she was the presiding justice of the Appeal Court division.

On that note, the five-man panel of justices of the Supreme Court hearing the appeals adjourned the matter to a date that will be communicated to all the parties in the matter.
Justice Bode Rhodes Vivour, who presided over the panel, said once a judge is accused of bias in any case, the ideal thing to do was to withdraw from the suit.

He said a new panel will be reconstituted to hear the appeals, and that he will contact the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen, to get a date that will not be too far, so as to dispense with the appeal as soon as possible.

Earlier, the court had struck out the application dated Dec. 30, 2016, filed by Friday Nwosu, through his counsel, A. C Ozioko on the ground that the “application appeared to be partially overtaken by event.”

The said application prayed the court to hear and determine the appeal based on the appellant’s brief only.

The Court of Appeal in Abuja had in August last year set aside the judgment by Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, in Abuja, which sacked Governor Ikpeazu of Abia State from office over alleged false tax information.
The court, in a unanimous decision, vacated the June 27, 2016 verdict of Justice Abang and held that the court erred in law and occasioned a miscarriage of justice against Ikpeazu.

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