The Supreme Court on Friday described as baseless the case which led to the June 27 decision of the Federal High Court to nullify the election of Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, for alleged tax evasion.
Justice Okon Abang had in a ruling on an application filled by an Abia State businessman, and member of Peoples Democratic Party, Samson Ogah, described the emergence of Mr. Ikpeazu as governor of Abia State under the platform of the PDP as null and void.
Mr. Abang based his decision on the fact that his court found the state governor guilty of tax evasion.
In a unanimous ruling, however, the Appeal Court on August 18 reversed that decision for lacking in merit.
A five-member panel of Supreme Court justices led by the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Walter Onnoghen, on Friday upheld the August 18 decision of the Appeal Court, stressing that the allegation of tax evasion is baseless, since taxes were usually supposed to be deducted by the state and the certificates for payment of tax presented in court would have come from the state government.
“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.”
Mr. Ogah who emerged runner-up to Mr. Ikpeazu in the PDP primaries ahead of the 2014 election had challenged the emergence of Mr. Ikpeazu as flagbearer of the party for about two years. The Supreme Court ruling now puts to rest Mr. Ogah’s challenge and validates Mr. Ikpeazu’s election.