Court Verdict: Ebonyi Gov Kicks As PDP Nominates Replacements, Writes INEC

Following the sack of Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi and his deputy, Kelechi Igwe, by the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has nominated Iduma Enwo Igariwey, a member of the House of Representatives, as the governor’s replacement.
The party has also put forward Mr Fred Udeogu as the deputy governor’s replacement.

Addressing a press conference at the party secretariat hours after the judgement, PDP National Chairman Senator Iyorchia Ayu said the names of the duo have been forwarded to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to be issued with their certificates of return so they can be sworn in immediately.

The governor, his deputy and 17 members of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly were sacked from office for defecting to the APC.

According to Ayu, Governor Umahi, his deputy and the 17 lawmakers were elected on the PDP platform in 2015 and again in 2019, but defected to APC on November 17, 2020, citing “injustice done to the South East.”

Court judgement

Justice Inyang Ekwo of a Federal High Court had on Tuesday held that the politicians’ defection from the PDP to the APC was unconstitutional.

The judge further held that the governor failed to controvert the depositions of the PDP that he was elected on its platform in the March 9, 2019 governorship election, adding that the immunity clause of Section 308 of the Nigerian Constitution did not apply to political matters.

He maintained that the option for the governor and his deputy was to vacate office and wait for the next election to contest under the platform of the new party.

“The 3rd and 4th defendants (Umahi and Igwe) cannot transfer the votes and victory of the plaintiff (PDP) on March 9, 2019, to the APC.

“Office of the Governor and Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State belong to the PDP,” he said.

Reacting, Umahi described the judgment as a miscarriage of justice and embarrassment to the APC.

He also said he has lost confidence in the nation’s judiciary, and insisted that he is still the governor of the state.

Addressing journalists in his office at the Centenary City, Abakaliki, Umahi dismissed Justice Ekwo’s judgement and maintained that the decision would be appealed.

Constitutional Lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay has also weighed in on the Federal High Court’s judgement sacking the Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State.

Sagay, in a chat with journalists, said the judgement was consistent with the decision of the Supreme Court in a case between former Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State and Celestine Omehia, who was sacked as governor.

But he noted that Umahi remains the governor since he has a window of appeal up to the Supreme Court.

Last night, APC, in a statement by its Director (Publicity), Salisu Nainna ambatta, described the judgment as case of travesty of justice and judicial recklessness, saying its effect is dead on arrival.

“The presiding judge committed a glaring judicial error by giving judgment sacking a duly elected and sworn-in governor and his deputy without relying on or citing any provision(s) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria or any provision of the Electoral Act that empowers the court to sack a sitting governor and or his deputy. This is purely a travesty of justice,” the party stated.

Contacted, INEC has said that it is yet to receive the Certified True Copy of the judgment.

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