By Ugochukwu Alaribe
Aba—A new twist emerged, Monday, in the tax forgery case instituted against Governor Okezie Ikpeazu by a PDP governorship aspirant in the December 8, 2014, PDP primaries, Mr. Friday Nwosu, as the Presiding Judge of the Federal High Court, Umuahia, Abia State, Justice F.A. Olubanjo withdrew from hearing the matter over alleged bias.
Nwosu had petitioned the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja, accusing Justice Olubanjo of frustrating an accelerated hearing of the matter and granting undue advantage to his opponent.
But while reacting to the petition during hearing, Monday, October 19, 2015, Justice Olubanjo, denied any misconduct, insisting that her hands were clean and declared that the matter would be remitted to the Chief Judge of the Federal Court, for re-assignment.
According to the petition: “His Lordship, Hon. Justice F.A. Olubanjo has since April 21, 2015, been conducting my case in Suit No. FHC/UM/CS/64/2015 in manners and circumstances that depict that the 3rd Defendant, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu (incumbent governor of Abia State) and his lawyer must be indulged by the Judge to delay or frustrate the hearing and determination of my suit till the term of office I am seeking to occupy expires in favour of the 3rd Defendant.
“This matter was adjourned from April 21, 2015 to May 20, 2015 and on that date, all documents had been filed and exchanged and the matter adjourned to June 6, 2015 for adoption, but on June 8, 2015, Hon. Justice Olubanjo did not sit, but the clerk of court gave June 26, 2015 as new date.
“Again on October 7, 2015, when the matter resumed in court, Hon. Justice Olubanjo, instead of taking the adoption of written addresses of counsel to all the parties which were all filed and exchanged on or before May 20, 2015 adjourned the matter to October 19, 2015, for no reason.
“The only reasons one can begin to conjecture are that 3rd Defendant’s counsel said that they were contemplating filing a fresh Motion on Notice to ask the court to transfer the matter to Abia State High Court while counsel to 4th Defendant said he did not come to court with his case file.
“It is on record that the Defendants had as early as the matter started, filed Motions of Preliminary objection as to the competence of the suit and jurisdiction of the court to hear and determine the matter which are all pending.”