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Defection: Court Upholds Umahi’s Election As Governor

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A State High Court sitting in Abakaliki, Ebonyi state capital Monday dismissed the suit challenging the defection of governor David Umahi from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to All Progressives Congress (APC).
Umahi, who in 2015 and 2019 won the governorship seat of the state under PDP, joined the APC in November 2020.
The plaintiff in the suit, Sen. Sunny Ogbuoji, was the governorship candidate of APC in the 2019 election and came second in the race.
Ogbuoji had approached the court to determine whether governor Umahi having defected to APC can still continue to be Governor.
He cited the provisions of the 1999 constitution as amended and the Electoral Act to push his argument in court.
But the presiding Judge, Justice Henry Njoku, while delivering his judgment, said the plaintiff was relying on the pre-election/election qualification issues.
According to him, ‘Considering the submissions of both parties, the Court held that having regard to section 188 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the defendant (Governor Umahi) has not offended any provision of the Constitution or the Electoral Act in his defection to APC.
‘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.’

Justice Njoku further noted that there is no provision in the constitution that provides for defection as one of the grounds for vacation or removal of a person as Governor or as  Deputy Governor.


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