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Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi and his deputy, Eric Igwe, have been ordered by a Federal High Court in Abuja 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 and not its candidate.
The court ruled that, having defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Governor Umahi and his deputy cannot transfer the mandate of the PDP to the APC.
Justice Inyang Ekwo who cited section 221 of the constitution in his ruling, ordered the PDP immediately send names of replacements to INEC so that fresh elections can be conducted.
Justice Ekwo also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to cease from recognising Umahi and Igwe as the governor and deputy governor of the Ebonyi State.
Delivering judgement in the case, the presiding judge, Justice ordered the governor and his deputy to vacate office, adding that their defection was illegal, null and unconstitutional.
He ordered INEC to receive names of candidates from the PDP to replace Umahi and Igwe.
The governor and his deputy defected from the PDP on whose platform they were elected into office in the 2015 and 2019 general elections to the APC.
Determined to reclaim its mandate, the PDP sued the Umahi, Igwe, the APC and INEC.
The court noted that the crux of the matter was the defection of the 3rd and 4th from the PDP to the APC, adding that the averments of the 3rd and 4th Defendants did not address the issue of defection rightly and frontally but rather resorted to general denial to affidavit evidence.
Justice Ekwo said the depositions of the 3rd and 4th Defendants in their counter affidavit were ‘evasive and insufficient’ to competently challenge the Plaintiff’s originating process.
It was the opinion of the court that the ‘Immunity Clause’ in section 308 of the Constitution is not absolute.
The court ruled that ‘Section 308 is a veritable constitutional shield’ and not for political reasons.
Justice Inyang said Umahi and Igwe did not controvert the deposition that total votes scored in an election belong to a political party.
He stated that evidence abound that the 2nd defendant (APC) contested the Ebonyi State Governorship election held on March 2019, with its own candidates.
THE EASTERN UPDATES