Defection: Appeal Court Rules In Favour Of Umahi, Deputy

Umahi
Ebonyi Governor Dave Umahi

The Court of Appeal Enugu Division, on Friday, upheld the judgement of Ebonyi High Court, Abakaliki, which dismissed a suit challenging the defection of Governor David Umahi and his deputy, Dr Kelechi Igwe, to the All Progressives Congress.

Citing injustice by the PDP against the South East zone, Governor Umahi and his Deputy had on November 2020 left the PDP, a platform on which they were elected, to the APC.

But in a unanimous judgement delivered by Justice A. O Belgore, the court held that Governor Umahi and his deputy had the right to move to any political party they so wished.

According to the court, there was nowhere in the constitution, the supreme law of the land, that barred a sitting governor from defecting to any political party.

Justices are Justice J.O.K Oyewole and Justice S.N Gbagi are other members of the three-man panel.

Recall that the governorship flag bearer of the APC in 2019 in Ebonyi State, Senator Suny Ogbuoji and his running mate, Justin Mbam Ogodo, had through originating summons filed a suit at the state High Court asking it to hold that the defendant, David Umahi, having defected to the APC from the PDP, ought to vacate the office, so that they would be sworn-in, having come second in the election.

But the suit was dismissed by Justice Henry Njoku of the Ebonyi State High Court for lacking in merit.

Njoku ruled that having regard to section 188 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the defendants, Governor Umahi and his deputy, had not offended any provision of the Constitution or the Electoral Act in defecting to the APC.

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The High Court further held that having regard to section 308 of the Constitution, it was even wrong to institute criminal or civil proceedings against the office of the Governor or Deputy Governor.

Not satisfied with the judgement, the plaintiffs, Suny Ogbuoji and his running mate, Justin Mbam Ogodo, on March 7, 2022, filed an appeal against the judgement, at the Enugu judicial division of the Appeal Court.

But in affirming the ruling of the Abakaliki High Court, the Appeal Court said that Governor Umahi and his deputy did not offend any provision of the Constitution or the Electoral Act, as 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.

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