By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA— Justice Amina Augie of the Supreme Court, yesterday, disqualified herself from a five-man panel the Chief Justice of Nigeria, CJN, Justice Walter Onnoghen, constituted to hear appeals seeking to sack Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State.
The appeals were lodged by two contenders for the governorship seat, Mr. Sampson Ogah and Sir Friday Nwosu.
The appellant went before the apex court to challenge August 18, 2016 judgment of the Court of Appeal in Abuja, which reversed the high court verdict that removed Ikpeazu from office over alleged tax infractions.
When the matter came up for hearing, yesterday, Justice Augie based her decision to withdraw from the case on allegation of bias levelled against her by one of the parties.
According to her, the party accused her of not properly constituting the four-member panel of Justices of the Court of Appeal that heard the petition challenging Ikpeazu’s election in Owerri when she held sway there as the Presiding Justice of the Division.
Justice Augie, who was recently elevated to the apex court bench, said her decision to pull out from the matter was in the interest of justice.
Following her withdrawal, head of the Supreme Court panel, Justice Bode Rhodes Vivour, adjourned hearing on the case, saying a new panel will be constituted by the CJN to hear the appeals.
He added that fresh hearing date would be communicated to all the parties.