- Governor David Umahi's election remains valid, despite dumping the PDP for the ruling APC, a court has ruled
- The Ebonyi state high court gave the ruling in a suit filed Senator Sunny Ogbuoji, the governorship candidate of APC in the 2019 election
- Justice Henry Njoku said there is no provision in the constitution that provides for defection as one of the grounds for the removal of a state governor
Abakaliki, Ebonyi state - A state high court sitting in Abakaliki, Ebonyi state capital, has dismissed the suit challenging the defection of governor David Umahi from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to All Progressives Congress (APC).
Following the defection, Senator Sunny Ogbuoji, the governorship candidate of APC in the 2019 election and first runner-up in the race approached the court.
He had asked the court to determine whether Umahi can still continue to be governor after leaving the party where he secured the mandate and defecting to the APC.
PAY ATTENTION: Install our latest app for Android, read best news on Nigeria’s #1 news app
Ogbuoji cited the provisions of the 1999 constitution as amended and the Electoral Act to push his argument in court.
You're relying on pre-election matter, court tells Ogbuoji
Delivering his judgement on Monday, February 28, the presiding judge, Justice Henry Njoku, said the plaintiff, Senator Ogbuoji, was relying on the pre-election/election qualification issues, Daily Trust reported.
He further noted that there is no provision in the constitution that provides for defection as one of the grounds for vacation or removal of a person as governor or as deputy governor.
Zamfara APC crisis: Spokesman for Mattawale’s camp makes stunning revelations about Yari’s loyalists
The judge said:
“Considering the submissions of both parties, the Court held that having regard to section 188 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the defendant (Governor Umahi) has not offended any provision of the Constitution or the Electoral Act in his defection to APC.
“The Court further held that having regard to section 308 of the Constitution, it is even wrong to institute criminal or civil proceedings against the office of the Governor.
“The Court, therefore, dismissed in its entirety, the suit filed by the plaintiff for lacking in merit and awarded Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500, 000.00) as damages against the plaintiff.”
Matawalle didn't violate constitution by defecting to APC, court rules
In a related development, a Federal High Court sitting in Gusau, the Zamfara state capital, has struck out a suit filed against Governor Bello Matawalle for defecting from the PDP to the APC.
Recall that the governor of Zamfara state dumped the PDP for the APC in June 2021 after weeks of speculations and political intrigues.
His decision to join the APC had angered some PDP chieftains, Bashir Saleh, Ibrahim Muhammed Turaki and Andulhamid Haruna, who proceeded to the court to seek his removal.