Federal High Court verdict: I’m still Governor of Ebonyi State, Umahi reiterates

Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State, Tuesday described as ridiculous, an Abuja Federal High Court, judgement sacking him and his Deputy from office following their defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC), even as he restated that he still remains the governor of Ebonyi State.

The Court had sacked David Umahi and his Deputy, Dr Kelechi Igwe from office and directed that the duo should not parade themselves as governor or deputy governor.

Briefing newsmen at the new Government House, Abakaliki, Governor Umahi noted that the ruling was “jungle justice that was purchased”, noting that the verdict was not a good development for the Judiciary.

Umahi stated that it is only through death, resignation or Impeachment by the state House of Assembly that a serving Governor and his Deputy could be removed from office.

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, had on Tuesday, sacked Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State and his Deputy, Dr Eric Kelechi Igwe.
The judgement followed a suit the PDP lodged before the court.

The court, in a judgement that was delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, ruled that the total number of 393, 042 votes governor Umahi secured during the March 9, 2019 governorship election in Ebonyi state, belonged to the PDP and same could not be legally transferred to the 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.

The Court further ruled that going by the outcome of the governorship election, the office 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”, it stated.

It held that the PDP is bound to retain the votes and mandate that was given to it by electorates in Ebonyi state, as both governor Umahi and his Deputy could not validly transfer same to APC.

The court, therefore, ordered both Umahi and Igwe to immediately vacate their positions.

It ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to immediately receive from the PDP, names of persons to replace Umahi and his Deputy, or in the alternative, conduct a fresh gubernatorial election in Ebonyi state in line with section 177(c) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

Meanwhile, a State High Court, sitting in Abakaliki, on February 28, dismissed the suit challenging the defection of Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State from the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) to All Progressives Congress, (APC).

The plaintiff was Sen. Sunny Ogbuoji, who prayed the Court to hold that the defendant, Governor of Ebonyi State, having defected to APC from the Party through which he was elected ought to vacate the office of the Governor upon defection and that the plaintiff having come second in the 2019 election be sworn in instead.

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.

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