The decision of the Court for the governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. David Umahi and his deputy to vacate their seats as the sitting governor and deputy respectively, on grounds that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won the election on March 2019 has been greeted in a different dimension by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
In an-8-point release signed by Salisu Na’inna Ɗambatta, the Director of Publicity, APC National Headquarters, Abuja and made available to Century Newsfront explained as follows: “1. Our attention has been drawn to the judgment made by Hon Justice Inyang Ekwo of Court 5 of Federal High Court FCT, Abuja and the travesty of Justice occasioned by the recklessness of his judicial decision 2. The crux of the matter is a suit by People’s Democratic Party, PDP seeking to sack the Governor of Ebonyi State, His Excellency Engr Chief David Nweze Umahi FNSE FNATE (Akubaraoha) and his Deputy for defecting to All Progressives Congress (APC). The parties raised issues for determination which all bothered on whether or not defection to another political party from a party that elected the Governor or his Deputy amounts to a breach of any section (s) of the constitution or the Electoral Act that should warrant a Judicial interpretation, raising declaratory and or injunctive orders against the Governor of a State and or his Deputy 3. 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 or any provision of the Electoral Act that empowers the court to sack a sitting Governor and or his Deputy. This is purely a travesty of Justice 4. The Court failed, refused and or neglected to understand the clear difference between a Governorship candidate of a Political Party as contemplated by the Electoral Act and a Governor of a State duly sworn in as contemplated by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Court presided by Hon. Justice Inyang Ekwo further went ahead to rely on the outdated authority of Amaechi v INEC (Omegha case) without exercising the Judicial power of Judicial distinction between pre-election/ election matters and this matter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. He chose not to appreciate or he lacked the understanding of the difference between a Governor of a State and Governorship candidate of a Political Party. The Electoral Act and the judgment in Amaechi v INEC contemplate who the right candidate of the Party is and not the issue of defection, as you all knows neither Amaechi nor Omegha raised issue of defection to another Political Party. So it is absolutely ridiculous and questionable, as it shameful that a judge could decide a weighty matter such as conditions for sacking the Governor of a State without relying on any express provision of the Constitution or Electoral Act or Judicial Authority either of superior courts or even courts of coordinate jurisdiction 5 It will be noted that a State High Court sitting in Ebonyi State 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 Judgement). The Governor of Zamfra State was recently given a clean bill of health in the matter for which this same issue of defection was sought to be determined. 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 siting Governor and or Deputy for the reason of DEFECTION TO ANOTHER POLITICAL PARTY 6. The constitution of Nigeria upholds the supremacy of the right of association of persons (even to defect from one political party to the other). This is the prevailing position of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the case of AG Fed & 2 ors v Alhaji Abubarkar & 3 ors ( SC 31/2007) (2007) NGSC 118, 20th April 2007. The case interpreted the right of FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION to determine whether the action of a Vice President abandoning the political party whose platform he and the President were elected and joining another Political Party without resigning, amounts to CONSTRUCTIVE RESIGNATION from office, to warrant the seat of the Vice President to be declared vacant.
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 7. The Federal High Court sitting in Zamfra 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 8. We therefore urge the people of Ebonyi State, the associates and fans of the visionary Governor of Ebonyi State, His Excellency Engr Chief David Nweze Umahi FNSE FNATE (Akubaraoha) to go about their normal business and disregard the outcome of the Ekwo Judgment as being dead on arrival and having no iota of effect on the rest of the matter as the Governor is sitting solidly and undistracted”.