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BREAKING: Appeal Court Dismisses Suit Against Umahi, Deputy Over Defection

• Judicial activism must not be turned into judicial rascality, it warns

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The Appeal Court sitting in Enugu, today dismissed the suit filed by the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ebonyi State, in the 2019 Governorship election, Senator Sonni Ogbuoji and his running mate, Chief Justin Ogbodo Mbam, demanding the court to declare the seats of Governor David Umahi and his Deputy, Dr. Kelechi Igwe vacant, on account of their defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to the APC.

The court affirmed the ruling of the Ebonyi State High Court, which declared that Umahi and Igwe did not offend any provision of the constitution or the Electoral Act with their defections.

The court held that there was no consequence under the law against the defection of the holder of the office of the president, vice president, governor or deputy governor, to another political party from the party that sponsored the election that brought him or her to office.

The Appellate Court, in a unanimous judgment delivered by a three-man panel led by Justice J O K Oyowole, held that the defection of a political office holder may appear immoral, but it was not the duty of the court to embark on an investigation or probe into the provisions of the laws, warning that judicial activism must not be turned into judicial rascality.

It further explained that there was no provision in sections 180, 188 or 189 of the 1999 constitution as amended, that empowered the Court to remove either a seating governor or the deputy from office.

Nothing that defection of an office holder is not novel to Nigeria’s judicial jurisprudence, the court, therefore, dismissed the appeal and awarded N200,000 against the appellants.

The Ebonyi State High Court, sitting in Abakaliki on February 28, 2022, had also truck out the same suit and awarded N500, 000 as damages against the plaintiff.

Credit: Vanguard

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