Socio-political group known as South East Progressive Assembly, SEPA, has thrown its weight behind embattled Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu insisting that available statistics and evidence did not in any form suggest that the governor either forged his tax clearance or evaded payment ahead of his participation in the primary election of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, where he was validly nominated as the party’s candidate to contest in the last governorship election in the state.
SEPA in a statement signed by its president, Ebere Uzoukwa and made available to journalists, argued that as a political appointee in the service of the state within the period under review, whose taxes were also duely and expressly deducted at source, he could not have been judicially condemned to have engaged in forgery after being cleared by the state Board of Internal Revenue.
The group, however insists that only the Board of Internal Revenue of Abia State has the constitutional powers to prove beyond reasonable doubt if indeed Gov. Ikpeazu forged, evaded or paid his taxes even as at when due.
“The attention of the South East Progressive Assembly, SEPA, has been drawn to yet another judgment by Abuja Federal High Court, presided by Justice Okon Abang which asked Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu to vacate his seat for Uche Ogah over alleged tax evasion.
“While SEPA as a responsible organisation strongly believes in the judiciary, it however, wonders why a man whose taxes were duly deducted at source while in the services of Abia State as an appointee, has been judicially condemned to have either forged his tax clearance or evaded payment.
“Those who clearly understand the workings of government are conversant to the tradition whereby political appointees, civil and public servants, mandatorily have their taxes deducted by the Board of Internal Revenue which constitutionally, is conferred with the powers of revenue collection of every state, including taxes.
“SEPA strongly believes that the onus of proving whether Gov. Ikpeazu forged his tax documents or evaded payment unarguably, lies on the shoulders of the Board of Internal Revenue of the state. Gov. Ikpeazu before contesting his party’s nomination ticket couldn’t have personally raised nor produced his tax documents. This obvious fact morally, but legally, absolves the governor from the culpability of forgery as alleged by the sponsors of the case.
“It baffles SEPA that at a time Abians are blessed with a visionary and caring leader that has within a short period redefined governance through an unprecedented performance, some self-styled and selfish individuals have not yet ceased to plotting the removal of the governor, even when he has chosen to work purposefully with everyone including the opposition. They forgot that only God gives power and crowns a king. They have also failed to remember that Dr. Ikpeazu’s governorship is deeply and divinely rooted.
“While we admonish the governor to uphold his good work and revolutions in the state, it is pertinent to remind Abians the urgency of standing solidly behind their governor, before their collective mandate is stolen through the back door. We equally call upon lovers of democracy to queue behind the governor in this latest battle to protect and defend the popular mandate of the people.
“For Uche Ogah and cohorts, SEPA wishes to remind them that the 2014 Electoral Act as amended, provides that any aspirant that doesn’t participate in an election does not stand to benefit from such election in any guise. We strongly believe the disaster that befell Alex Otti of APGA also hovers around Ogah’s neck.
“We therefore support Gov. Ikpeazu’s decision to appeal the judgment of the Abuja Federal High Court with the joyous optimism that justice will definitely prevail at the end of the day,” the group said.

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