Court Sacks Umahi, Deputy, 17 Lawmakers Over Defection to APC

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A Federal High Court in Abuja, on Tuesday, sacked Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, and his Deputy, Dr Eric Kelechi Igwe, over their defection from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressive Congress.

 

The judgement, delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, held that the total number of 393,042 votes Umahi secured at the March 9, 2019 Ebonyi State governorship election belonged to the PDP, hence could not be legally transferred to the APC.

 

The court noted that both Umahi and Igwe’s defection to the APC, not only threw out the PDP, but also the votes that belonged to the party.

 

However, Umahi said the judgement which rendered him and his Deputy removed, on Tuesday, was purchased.

 

Umahi stated this during a press conference, in Abakaliki, on Tuesday.

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He said, “I am still the Governor of Ebonyi State and there is no tension at all. In the first place, there is no constitutional provision for any hatchet man to remove a governor. There are three ways whereby a governor can vacate his office: it’s either by death, resignation and impeachment.

 

“There is no other constitutional provision that empowers a hatchet man to turn the Constitution upside down.

 

“We have heard the rumours before now that he was determined to give judgement against all known laws and the constitution, first to embarrass the APC, and to equally embarrass the federal government.”

 

Meanwhile, the court has equally sacked 17 members of the Ebonyi state house of assembly who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

 

The lawmakers had on November 17, 2020, joined Umahi and Eric Igwe, deputy governor, to move over to the APC.

 

The court, in its judgment delivered on Tuesday, held that the legislators could not transfer the mandate they received from the ballot to another political party after abandoning the political party that had sponsored them.

 

Inyang Ekwo, the judge, held that the defendants who were elected into the house of assembly on the platform of the PDP could not justify their defection when there was no division in the PDP.

 

It held that section 109(1) (g) of the 1999 constitution was purposely created to ensure that defectors were not allowed to retain their seats in the house, unless such defectors are able to justify their action.

 

The court held that the case PDP brought against them succeeded.

 

Consequently, Ekwo ordered the lawmakers to vacate their positions with immediate effect.

 

 

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He restrained them from further parading themselves or acting as members of Ebonyi state assembly.

 

The court also made an order of mandatory injunction compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accept from the PDP, a list of its candidates to replace the sacked lawmakers, as well as to issue certificates of return to them.

 

In the alternative, the court directed INEC to conduct a fresh election in Ebonyi state to fill up the vacant positions within 90 days.

 

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