Defections: Umahi, Igwe remain gov, deputy – Appeal Court



The Court of Appeal sitting in Enug on Friday upheld the defection of Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi state and his deputy, Mr. Kelechi Igwe.

The court dismissed the appeal filed by Sen. Sonni Ogbuoji and Mbam Ogodo seeking to remove the governor and his deputy for having no locus in their bid.

In a lead judgement delivered by Justice J. O. K. Oyewole, the court held that the appellants had no locus in their bid to supplant the respondents.

Oyewole said the defections of the governor and his deputy from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) might appear immoral.

He, however, held that the Constitution did not provide for their removal from office based on defection.

“Defection of elected executives is not novel in our political system, but their removal must be in accordance with the Constitution. The defection might appear immoral, but they have freedom of association,” he held.

The judge held further that there were no express constitutional provisions for consequences on the defection of a governor or deputy governor to another party, but it was not the duty of the court to start making laws or inserting words in the express provision of the Constitution.

The appellants were the governorship candidate and running mate respectively of the APC in the 2019 governorship election.

They had sometime in 2020 defected to the APC.

The appellants through their counsel, Mr. Ogbonnaya Okolie, approached a State High Court in Abakaliki and sought their removal on the grounds that they abandoned the platforms upon which they won their elections.

They had averred that Umahi and Igwe who were sponsored by the PDP

in the election, by their actions, abandoned their seats and vote.

They sought the leave of the court to make declarations that would enable them to replace the respondents as governor and deputy governor, respectively.

However, the trial court dismissed their case for lacking in merit.

NAN