Governor Dave Umahi
Why court struck out suit against Umahi
By Nweze Anaga, Abakaliki
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the High Court sitting in Abakaiki, the Ebonyi State capital, has quashed a suit seeking to remove the state governor, David Umahi, and his Deputy, Dr. Kelechi Igwe, from office because it lacked merit.
The suit was filed by Senator Sunny Ogbuorji, who ran for the 2019 governorship alongside Umahi.
He demanded that having defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) on which platform he emerged as the governor, should forfeit the position alongside his deputy.
While delivering the two-hour judgement at the Federal High Court 2, Abakaliki, Justice Henry Njoku, made references to similar cases including that of Atiku Abubakar, noting that having been sworn in as governor and deputy.
He dismissed the case as lacking in merit and awarded N500,000 as cost in favour of the defendant, Umahi and deputy.
Though the plaintiff did not come through relevant rules of Court to institute their originating summons, the Court still went ahead in the interest of substantive justice to hear the matter of the propriety of the defection of Governor Umahi from PDP to APC
The plaintiff sought to determine whether Governor Umahi having defected to APC could still continue to be governor, having regards to the provisions of the constitution and the Electoral Act as relied upon by the plaintiff and that having come second in the Governorship election ought to be sworn in.
The defendant in his argument canvassed that the plaintiff was relying on the pre-election /election qualification issues, arguing that there was no provision in the constitution that provided for defection as one of the grounds for the vacation or removal of a person as Governor or as Deputy Governor.
He alluded to judicial authorities of Appellant.