Why court sacked Gov Umahi, Deputy, 16 lawmakers

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday sacked Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State and his Deputy, Dr Eric Kelechi Igwe, from their respective offices, following their defection from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC.

The court equally ordered 16 members of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly that joined the governor and his deputy in the defection to  APC on November 17, 2020, to vacate their seats and refund all salaries and monies received from the day they defected to the APC.

The lawmakers include Odefa Obasi Odefa, Victor Uzoma Chukwu, Kingsley Ikoro,  Benjamin Uzoma, Joseph Unuhu, Nkemka Okoro, Anthony Nwegede and Chinwe Nwachukwu.

Others are Onu Nwonye, Friday Nwuhuo, Moses Odunwa, Chinedu Awo, Chinedu Ona,  Chukwuma Igwe, Chukwu Lucas and Francis Nwifuru.

The judgements followed two suits, marked FHC/ABJ/CS/920/21 and FHC/ABJ/CS/ 104/21, which the PDP lodged before the court.

Votes belonged to PDP — Judge

Justice Inyang Ekwo held that the total number of 393, 343 votes Governor Umahi secured during the March 9, 2019 governorship election in Ebonyi State, belonged to the PDP and the same could not be legally transferred to APC.

According to the court, having defected to the APC, both Umahi and his deputy not only jettisoned the PDP, but also the votes that belonged to it.

It held that going by the outcome of the governorship election, the offices of the governor and deputy governor in Ebonyi State, belong to the Plaintiff and no other political party.

“There is no constitutional provision that made the ballot transferrable from one party to the other,” Justice Ekwo added.

He held that the PDP was bound to retain the votes and mandate given to it by the electorate in Ebonyi State, as both Governor Umahi and his deputy could not validly transfer same to APC.

“The 2nd, 3rd and 4th Defendants have not controverted the assertion of the Plaintiff that it is by the vote of the Plaintiff that the 3rd and 4th Defendants became governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi State in 2015 and 2019.

“In conclusion, let me put it this way, the 3rd and 4th Defendants did not on their own win the election of 9th March 2019 to become governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi State respectively.

“They were sponsored by the Plaintiff in compliance with the provision of Section 221 of the 1999 constitution, as amended. Therefore, it was the Plaintiff (PDP) that the electorate voted for.

“They cannot remain in the office of governor and deputy governor respectively of Ebonyi State after their defection, without the Plaintiff (PDP) that the electorate voted for.

“On the other hand, the 2nd Defendant (APC) was not the party elected by the electorate in the election of 9th March 2019 to govern Ebonyi State. Therefore, the 2nd Defendant (APC) cannot govern Ebonyi state through the 3rd and 4th Defendants when it did not win the election that produced the Governor and Deputy Governor. 

“The Constitution is put in jeopardy where the will of electorates when they voted for a political party can be brazenly mechanized by candidates without consequence. 

“The act of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Defendants and the position of their respective counsel, in this case, is directed at the political dismantling of the 1999 constitution, as amended. It must be stopped forthwith,” Justice Ekwo held. Vanguard 

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