- The APC has opposed the verdict of the Federal High Court in Abuja sacking Governor Dave Umahi and his deputy, Eric Igwe
- The ruling party argued that the court did not consult the constitution before delivering is judgment
- Moreover, the APC insisted that no portion of the constitution is against a governor's decision to defect to any party of his choice
The All Progressives Congress (APC has decried the ruling of the Federal High Court in Abuja sacking the governor of Ebonyi, Dave Umahi, and his deputy, Eric Igwe, and has described the decision as reckless with its effect as dead on arrival.
According to the ruling party in a statement published via Facebook on Tuesday, March 8, by Salisu Na'inna Ɗambatta, its director (publicity) at the national headquarters, the presiding judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo, made some judicial errors.
In this piece, Legit.ng briefly x-rays the 'sins' of Justice Ekwo in ordering Governor Umahi and Deputy Governor Igwe to vacate their seats in Ebonyi state Government House.
1. No reliance on the constitution
In the APC's view, the court did not rely on any provision on the Nigerian constitution in arriving at the judgment which has sparked controversy in the southeast state and the nation generally.
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"The presiding judge committed a glaring judicial error by giving judgment sacking a duly elected and sworn-in governor and his deputy without relying on or citing any provision(s) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria."
2. No reference on Electoral Act
Added to this, the APC said the court did not make any reference to the provision of the newly signed Electoral Act which empowers it to sack a sitting governor and or his deputy. Reacting to this, the party said it is "purely a travesty of justice."
3. Judicial error, ignorance
Moreover, the APC said the court failed, refused, and or neglected to spot the difference between a gubernatorial candidate of a political party as reflected in the Electoral Act and a governor of a state duly sworn in as contemplated by the constitution.
It further argued that the court only relied on the outdated authority of Amaechi v INEC (Omegha case) without "exercising the judicial power of Judicial distinction between pre-election/election matters and this matter of elected governor defecting to another political party."
It explained that the Electoral Act and "the judgment in Amaechi vs INEC contemplate who is the right candidate of the party and not the issue of defection...neither Amaechi nor Omegha raised the issue of defection to another political party..."
The party sees this supposed error of judgment as "absolutely ridiculous and questionable ...shameful."
4. The Zamfara example
The party pointed out that "a state high court sitting in Ebonyi presided by Hon Justice Henry Njoku (who is more Senior in bench than Hon Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court 5 Abuja) has given judgment on the issues sought in this Ekwo judgment."
Even more, it recalled that the governor of Zamfara was recently given a clean bill of health in the matter for which this same issue of defection was sought to be determined.
It said in that case, the Federal High Court, in its well-considered judgment stated that there is no provision in any law of the land or the constitution of Nigeria that empowers any court in Nigeria to sack or tamper with the office of a sitting governor and or deputy for the reason of defection to another political party.
Part of its statement on this read:
"The Federal High Court sitting in Zamfara State has also relied on this Judicial Authority as the Law. In that case, the Court most recently held that Governor Bellow Matawallle VIOLATED NO provision of the Constitution of Nigeria and or PDP or APC's constitution by his defection."
5. No law against defection in Nigeria
Umahi's sack: List of governors, senators, Reps, state lawmakers who may lose their seats over defection
Deepening its argument, the party said the Nigerian constitution recognises the "supremacy of the right of association of persons (even to defect from one political party to the other)".
It backed up its claims by stating that this is the position of the Supreme Court "in the case of AG Fed & 2 ors v Alhaji Abubarkar & 3 ors ( SC 31/2007) (2007) NGSC 118, 20th April 2007."
Quoting the position of the apex court, it said:
"The Supreme Court held that the Vice President (the President, the Governor, the Deputy Governor) can only vacate office pursuant to section 306 ( resignation) or sections 143 & 144 of the Constitution of Nigeria which is parimateria with sections 188 & 189 of the same constitution."
PDP submits names of nominees to replace Governor Umahi, deputy to INEC
Meanwhile, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had submitted the names of its nominees for governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi state, respectively, to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Iyorchia Ayu, the national chairman of the PDP, at a media briefing on Tuesday, said the party had nominated Iduma Igariwe and Fred Udogwu to replace Umahi and Igwe respectively.
The party took the step after the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Tuesday, March 8, sacked Umahi and his deputy for defecting from the PDP to the APC.