By Nweze Anaga, Abakaliki
The Appeal Court sitting in Enugu has uploaded the judgement of Ebonyi State High Court, Abakaliki, which quashed a judgement sacking Governor David Umahi and his deputy, Dr Kelechi Igwe, from office for defecting to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The suit, which was filed by Senator Suny Ogbuoji and his running mate, Mr.Justin Mbam Ogodo, the governorship flagbearers of the APC in 2019 general elections in Ebonyi State, had through originating summons asked the Court to hold that the defendant, Governor Umahi, having defected to the ruling party, APC, from the PDP, ought to vacate the office as governor and deputy governor so that they would be sworn-in having come second in the 2019 election in Ebonyi State.
Delivering judgement on the matter few months ago at Ebonyi State High Court, Justice Henry Njoku dismissed the suit for lacking in merit.
He ruled that having regard to section 188 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the defendants, Governor Umahi and deputy, had not offended any provision of the Constitution or the Electoral Act in defecting to the APC.
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, Sen. Suny Ogbuoji and his running mate, Justin Mbam Ogodo, on 7th March 2022, filed an appeal against the judgement, at Enugu judicial division of the Appeal Court.
The Appeal Court on Friday affirmed the ruling of the Abakaliki High Court, stating that Governor Umahi and his deputy did not offend any provision of the constitution or the Electoral Act, as there is 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.
Recall that Governor Umahi and his deputy had on November 2020 defected from PDP to APC, citing injustice by the PDP against the South-East zone as their reason for leaving the party.