PDP Submits Umahi's Replacement To INEC, Governor Insists He Remains In Power

PDP Submits Umahi’s Replacement To INEC, Governor Insists He Remains In Power.

The defection of Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State and his deputy, Dr Kelechi Igwe, from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress was deemed unconstitutional by Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court in Abuja on Tuesday.

The court delivered the ruling in a case brought by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) seeking the expulsion of Umahi and Igwe from office.

While Umahi chastised the court and argued that he was still the state governor at a news conference in Abakaliki, the PDP National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, stated the party had sent Umahi and Igwe’s replacements to the Independent National Electoral Commission.

The defection of the third defendant (governor) and the fourth defendant (deputy governor) from the PDP to the APC was the substance of the complaint, the FHC Abuja held earlier on Tuesday.

The third and fourth defendants’ declarations, according to the judge, did not address the question of defection properly and directly, instead relying on generic denial and affidavit evidence.

READ ALSO: Umahi Rejects High Court’s Ruling, Insists He Remains Governor Of Ebonyi State

The third and fourth defendants’ depositions in their counter-affidavit were “evasive and inadequate” to adequately contest the plaintiff’s originating process, according to Justice Ekwo.

He said, “The immunity clause” in Section 308 of the constitution is not absolute. Section 308 is a veritable constitutional shield”, and not for political reasons.

According to the court, Umahi and Igwe did not refute the deposition that all votes cast in an election belonged to a single political party.

There was adequate proof, according to Justice Ekwo, that the second defendant (the APC) ran its own candidates in the Ebonyi State governorship election in March 2019.

He stated, “It can be noted that the constitution does not deal with the issue of defection lightly. The third and fourth defendants cannot transfer the votes and victory of the plaintiff on March 9, 2019, to the APC.

“Offices of the governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi State belong to the PDP. The option for Umahi and Igwe is to vacate office and wait for next election to contest election under the platform of its new party”, the court declared.

As a result, the court determined that, under Nigeria’s democratic system, the plaintiff received a majority of votes during the election and was allowed to continue to do so until the conclusion of the term of office for which the election was held.

As a result, the court barred Umahi and Igwe from acting as governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi State in the future.

On the same grounds that the governor was ousted, the court expelled 15 members of the state House of Assembly who switched from the PDP to the APC.

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