The Abia State All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) governorship candidate in the 2015 general elections, Alex Oti, appears not ready to drop his ambition to govern the state.
He, on Friday got the nod of the got Supreme Court to join the suit challenging governor Okezie Ikpeazu’s victory.
Four justices of the Supreme Court, led by Justice Clara Ogunbiyi, unanimously arrived at the decision on Friday.
Justice Ogunbiyi ruling on the matter, said, “The appellant’s applicant appeal challenging the August 5, 2016 judgment of the lower court has merit. The appeal is predicated on grounds of mixed law and facts and, therefore, this court is compelled to grant it in the interest of justice.
“In the circumstance, the August 5, 2016 decision of the Court of Appeal, Abuja, which refused to grant the applicant the permission to be joined in the pending Abia governorship suit is set aside. The prayer of the appellant urging this court to consider his appeal against Governor Ikpeazu Okezie is hereby deemed as filed before this court.’’
She further held that granting the leave for the applicant to appeal the decision of the lower court on the matter was not to say that the appeal could succeed.
“The law has established that once an application is challenging a matter on mixed law and facts, justice demands that he or she must be heard,’’ Ogunbiyi held.
Oti’s application on the same matter at a lower court presided over by Justice Dati Yahaya, was thrown out on the argument that Oti failed to establish his interest in the internal affairs of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Yahaya had in his ruling held that the subject of litigation between Dr Samson Ogah and Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, who were all members of the PDP, is the primary election of the party conducted on December 8, 2014.
He also held that Oti being a member of APGA had no locus standi to interfere in the primary election of the PDP, adding that the applicant was not able to give circumstantial reasons to influence the court to exercise its judicial discretion in his favour.
The appellate court further submitted that consenting for the applicant to join the case would mean attempting to change the nature of the suit from intra-party to an inter-party tussle.
Counsel to the governor, Mr Kanu Agabi (SAN), in his reaction to the Supreme Court ruling, after the session, said that Oti had no chance in the ongoing appeals against his client.
He maintained that the decision of the Court of Appeal that re-affirmed Ikpeazu as governor had foreclosed Oti’s chances of making anything out of the suit.
“This tussle is strictly an intra-party matter. Oti is not a member of the PDP, only Ogah is in contention. In any case, the apex court is prepared to hear him,’’ Agabi said.
Following Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court ruling on October 29, 2016 ordering the removal of Ikpeazu from office and swearing in of Ogah in his replacement, Oti had demanded that he instead should be enthroned as governor of Abia State having come second at the governorship election.
But the Court of Appeal in Abuja upturned Okon Abang ruling and re-affirmed Ikpeazu’s election.
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