The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has denounces the order of the High Court in Abuja removing Governor Dave Umahi and his deputy, Eric Igwe from their position over their defection to the party.
Reacting to the court order in a statement issued on Tuesday evening, the Director (Publicity)APC National Headquarters, Salisu Na’inna Ɗambatta, described the ruling as a “glaring judicial error” and a “travesty of justice”.
“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,” it read in part.
The APC accused the court of relying on the outdated authority of Amaechi v INEC (Omegha case) without exercising the Judicial power of Judicial distinction between pre-election/ election matters and this matter of an elected governor defecting to another political party.
“The Electoral Act and the judgment in Amaechi vs INEC contemplates who is the right candidate of the party and not the issue of defection. As you all know, neither Amaechi nor Omegha raised the issue of defection to another political party.
“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.
Delivering judgment on the matter on Tuesday, Justice Inyang Ekwo held that having defected to the APC, 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.
Citing section 221 of the constitution, Justice Ekwo, therefore, ordered the PDP to 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.
Reacting to the judgment, Umahi said Justice Ekwo lacked the power to remove him from office.
Meanwhile, the PDP has nominated Iduma Enwo Igariwey as a replacement for Governor Umahi, and Mr Fred Udeogu as Deputy Governor.