Politics

Defection: Appeal Court dismisses suit against Ebonyi governor, Umahi

The Appeal Court sitting in Enugu on Friday dismissed the suit filed by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Ebonyi State, in the 2019 Governorship election, Senator Sonni Ogbuoji and his Deputy, Chief Justin Ogbodo Mbam, which demanded the Court to declare the seats of Governor David Nweze Umahi and his Deputy, Dr Kelechi Igwe vacant on account of their defection from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to the APC.

The Court held that there was no consequence under the law against the defection of the holder of the office of the President, Vice President, Governor or Deputy Governor, to another political Party from the party that sponsored the election that brought him or her to office.

The Plaintiffs in the matter are the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Ebonyi State, in the 2019 Governorship election, Senator Sonni Ogbuoji and his Deputy, Chief Justin Ogbodo Mbam.

Recall that on Tuesday, February 28, 2022, the Ebonyi State High Court sitting in Abakaliki, struck out the same suit and awarded N500, 000 as damages against the plaintiff.

The Appellate Court in a unanimous judgement delivered by a three-man Panel led by Justice J O K Oyowole, held that, the defection of a political office holder may appear immoral, but it was not the duty of the Court to embark on investigation or probe into the provisions of the laws, warning that judicial activism must not be turned into judicial rascality.

The Court further explained that there was no provision in sections 180, 188 or 189 of the 1999 constitution as amended, that empowered the Court to remove either a seating Governor or the Deputy from office.

According to the learned Justices, defection of an office holder is not novel to Nigeria’s judicial jurisprudence.

The Court, however, dismissed the appeal and awarded two hundred thousand (#200,000) naira against the appellants.

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