Defection to APC: Court Decides Umahi, Deputy’s Fate March 8

Alex Enumah

Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court, Abuja, come March 8, and 14, 2022,respectively, would decide whether Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State and his deputy, Dr. Kelechi Igwe, could continue to remain in office after defecting from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress ( APC).

Justice Ekwo, yesterday, announced that judgment had been fixed for the two dates shortly after lawyers to parties in the suits adopted and argued their brief of arguments for and against the suits.

The plaintiffs in the two suits marked FHC/ABJ/CS/ 920/21 and FHC/ABJ/CS/ 1041/21, were seeking the removal of Umahi and his deputy from office for defecting from the PDP,which brought them into office to the ruling APC.

The plaintiff, (PDP), in an originating summons marked FHC/ABJ/CS/920/2021, asked the court to make a declaration that by defecting from the party on which they were sponsored and elected as governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi State, to the APC, a political party that did not win the election, they have resigned or deemed to have resigned from office.

It is the argument of the PDP that Umahi and his deputy lost the majority votes scored at the election won under its platform, the moment they defected from the PDP to the APC and consequently should be ordered by the court to vacate their respective offices as governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi State.

Other defendants in the suit were the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the All Progressive Congress (APC).

Responding, the governor and his deputy, through their lawyer, Chief Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume, SAN, urged the court to declined jurisdiction and transfer the case to Ebonyi State.

According to Ume, since Umahi was sworn in by the Chief Judge of Ebonyi State and not by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, his removal from office can only be pursued through the State House of Assembly and the State High Court.

To that extent, Umahi and his deputy had filed a notice of preliminary objection challenging the suit by the PDP, wherein, they argued that Section 308 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended has provided immunity to them from the Plaintiff’s Suit and that votes cast during the said elections were by the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended) and recent Supreme Court pronouncements, belonged to them and not the plaintiff.

They further contested that being Ebonyi State governor and deputy governor sworn into Offices by the Chief Judge of Ebonyi State, they could not be removed from their offices by a Federal High Court.

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