The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has accused the Federal High Court of ‘judicial error’ after a ruling declaring that Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi and his deputy, Eric Igwe, vacate their seats as the sitting governor and deputy respectively.
This was contained in a statement issued on Tuesday by the Director (Publicity) APC National Headquarters, Salisu Na’inna Ɗambatta, who described the ruling as a “glaring judicial error” and a “travesty of justice”.
Dambatta said, “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.”
Furthermore, the APC criticised the Court for referencing Amaechi’s case, noting it was not a case of defection.
In February 2014, the Supreme Court dismissed a suit filed by Celestine Omehia, a former governor of Rivers State, challenging the election of his successor, Rotimi Amaechi.
The court quashed the decision of an appeal court which gave Mr. Omehia a temporary win that suggested he may oust Mr. Amaechi after seven years in office.
The long-drawn case dates back to 2010.
Mr. Omehia was removed from office in October 2007 after holding office for five months. The Supreme Court at the time ruled that he had usurped Mr. Amaechi’s ticket for the election, and accordingly handed Mr. Amaechi the top job.
In its statement regarding the ruling against Umahi, the APC said, “The Electoral Act and the judgment in Amaechi vs INEC contemplate who is the right candidate of the party and not the issue of defection. As you all know, neither Amaechi nor Omehia raised the issue of defection to another political party.
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“So it is absolutely ridiculous and questionable, as it is shameful that a judge could decide a weighty matter such as conditions for sacking the governor of a state without relying on any express provision of the Constitution or Electoral Act or Judicial Authority either of superior courts or even courts of coordinate jurisdiction,” the statement read.
Governor Umahi and his deputy had been elected into office in the 2015 and 2019 general elections on the platform of the PDP. However, they defected to the APC in 2020.
Consequently, the PDP approached the court, asking for Umahi’s removal.
In his ruling on Tuesday, Justice Inyang Ekwo ruled that Governor Umahi and his deputy cannot transfer the mandate of the PDP to their current party, the APC.
He described their defection as illegal, null, and unconstitutional.