A Federal High Court in Abuja has ordered the Ebonyi State Governor, Engr Dave Umahi and his Deputy, Eric Igwe, to vacate their seats as the sitting governor and deputy, respectively, on grounds that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) won the election on March 9, 2019, and not its candidate.
This is even as the PDP has nominated Hon. Iduma Igariwey as possible replacement for the sacked governor of Ebonyi State.
Having defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC), Umahi and his deputy cannot transfer the mandate of the PDP to the APC, the court said.
Citing Section 221 of the Constitution, Justice Inyang Ekwo ordered the PDP to immediately send names of replacements to INEC so that fresh elections can be conducted.
Ekwo also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to cease from recognising Umahi and Igwe as the governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi State.
Delivering judgement in the case, the presiding judge, Justice Inyang Ekwo ordered the governor and his deputy to vacate office, adding that their defection was illegal, null and unconstitutional.
He ordered INEC to receive names of candidates from the PDP to replace Umahi and Igwe.
The governor and his deputy defected from the PDP on whose platform they were elected into office in the 2015 and 2019 general election to the APC.
Determined to reclaim its mandate, the PDP sued the Umahi, Igwe, the APC and INEC.
The court noted that the crux of the matter was the defection of the 3rd and 4th from the PDP to the APC, adding that the averments of the 3rd and 4th Defendants did not address the issue of defection rightly and frontally but rather resorted to general denial to affidavit evidence.
Ekwo said the depositions of the 3rd and 4th Defendants in their counter affidavit were “evasive and insufficient” to competently challenge the Plaintiff’s originating process.
It was the opinion of the court that the “Immunity Clause” in Section 308 of the Constitution is not absolute.
The court ruled that “Section 308 is a veritable constitutional shield” and not for political reasons.
Inyang said Umahi and Igwe did not controvert the deposition that total votes scored in an election belong to a political party.
He stated that evidence abound that the 2nd defendant (APC) contested the Ebonyi State Governorship election held on March 9, 2019, with its own candidates.
“It can be noted that the Constitution does not deal with the issue of defection lightly,” the court stated.
“The 3rd and 4th Defendants cannot transfer the votes and victory of the Plaintiff on March 9, 2019, to the APC. Office of the Governor and Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State belongs to the PDP.
“The option for Umahi and Igwe is to vacate office and wait for next election to contest election under the platform of its new party,” the court declared.
The court said the act of the APC, Umahi and his deputy was aimed at dismantling the 1999 Constitution.
Consequently, the court declared that under the democratic system operated in Nigeria, the plaintiff won the majority of votes during the election and was entitled to enjoy same till end of tenure of office for which the election was conducted.
However, the embattled Ebonyi State Governor, Engr Dave Umahi has reacted to reports of his sack by a Federal High Court in Abuja over his defection to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Speaking to journalists in Abakaliki, Umahi said that the judgement would not stand, and that his followers would not obey it.
He described the ruling as “jungle justice that was purchased.”
The governor insisted that such ruling was not a good development for the Judiciary.
The PDP had in an originating summons marked FHC/ABJ/CS/920/2021, approached the court to declare that by defecting from the party on which they were elected as governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi State to the APC, they had resigned or are deemed to have resigned from office.
Ekwo, in a judgement, yesterday, held that the total number of 393,042 votes Umahi secured at the March 9, 2019 Ebonyi State governorship election belonged to the PDP, hence could not be legally transferred to the APC.
Meanwhile, the PDP has nominated Hon. Iduma Igariwey as possible replacement for the sacked governor of Ebonyi State.
The PDP National Chairman, Dr Iyorchia Ayu, who disclosed this at a world press conference, yesterday, in Abuja, hailed the judgement, saying “the Judiciary is indeed the backbone of this democracy.”
Ayu, who appreciated the Judiciary for what he described as a “landmark judgement”, said the verdict would bring order in the political space and check the issue of political rascality and stolen mandates.
He said, “We also want to single out Justice Inyang Ekwo for special recognition, particularly for being courageous and forthright in going for the substance of the law rather than the technicalities.
“And in line with the court order, PDP is immediately submitting to INEC the names of our candidates for governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi State, respectively.
“We are also calling on INEC to immediately issue the Certificates of Return to the PDP nominees as a replacement for Messrs Umahi and Igwe, pursuant to the Order of the Honourable Court.”
Responding to questions, Ayu said the party nominated Hon Iduma Enwo Igariwey as a replacement for Governor David Umahi, and Fred Udeogu as deputy governor.
Ayu also called on the Chief Judge of Ebonyi State to immediately swear them in as soon as INEC issues the requisites Certificates of Return.
The chairman of the opposition party also called on INEC to immediately withdraw the Certificates of Return from the 17 lawmakers and commence the process of conducting bye-elections to replace them.
2023: I’m Only PDP Presidential Aspirant To Defeat APC–Wike
Rivers State Governor and leading presidential aspirant on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Nyesom Wike,has said that he remained the only PDP aspirant that could win election against the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Wike, in company of some PDP chieftains, made this remark when he met national delegates of the Lagos chapter of PDP in Ikeja, last Saturday.
The aspirant, who noted that he was not running to be vice president to anybody, said that if elected, peace, security of lives and property would be prioritised to strengthen the nation’s sustainable infrastructure, food security, prosperity and economic turnaround.
He said the nation needed a strong and courageous leader like him now, adding that with a courageous leader, difficult decisions would be taken to tackle the nation’s challenges.
“The issue now is who can win election for PDP. Who has the capacity to face the APC? Who will win election for PDP? That is me here.
“I will face APC squarely. If you give me this ticket on May 28 and May 29, go home and sleep with your two eyes closed,” Wike said.
The governor said that PDP must do everything possible not to lose the 2023 presidential election.
“If we lose the presidential election in 2023, we can as well forget PDP.
“I have been tested in terms of performance. Mine is ‘talk and do’,” he added.
Wike, who promised to replicate his outstanding performance in Rivers State across Nigeria, said that he would provide a leadership every Nigerian would be proud of, home and abroad.
The aspirant pleaded with the Lagos delegates and leaders to be united and work for his emergence at the primaries.
“I know APC very well, allow me to face them. I am begging you, delegates, allow me. Support me to take the power from APC and bring back to PDP.
“I depend on the South-West, if the South-West gives me the votes, I have won the election. Donate all your votes to me,” he said.”
The PDP chieftain lamented that some party leaders aspiring to contest for PDP presidential ticket now, were the ones that threw the former ruling party into being opposition when they left the party in 2015.
Wike, who noted that he had been with PDP since 1998, said: “I will never leave this party. Whatever I am today, by the grace of God, God used PDP for me”.
He, however, said that he would never leave PDP even if he did not win the primaries, pledging to support whoever won.
The governor, who appealed to the Lagos PDP to end all infighting and division, said that if the party was not united, it would not win in the state.
In his remark, former Governor of Gombe State, Dr Ibrahim Dankwambo, who led Wike’s delegation, described the presidential aspirant as a fearless and courageous leader, with strong capacity to drive Nigeria forward.
Army Bombs B’Haram Commander’s Convoy, Kills Scores, Destroys Gun Trucks
Troops of the Nigerian Army under the auspices of Operation Hadin Kai have bombed a convoy of a Commander of Boko Haram in Sambisa forest, Abubakar Sarki, killing scores of terrorists who were with him.
Sources said the offensive was coordinated by the General Officer Commanding 7 Division, Nigerian Army and Commander Sector 1 North East Operation Hadin Kai (OPHK), Maj-Gen Waidi Shaibu on Saturday, May 14, 2022, at Yuwe location, within the Konduga Local Government Area of Borno State.
The Army was said to have deployed a massive artillery gun after sighting eight moving convoys conveying Abubakar Sarki and unconfirmed numbers of fighters in devastating hits.
The source said that based on intelligence information, Abubakar Sarki and his team were heading toward Abu-Ubaida’s camp to engage its rival fighters from the Islamic State of the West African Province (ISWAP), in a battle of supremacy.
Counter Intelligence expert with knowledge of terrorists activities in Lake Chad, Zagazola Makama confirmed the artillery bombing of the BH Commander’s convoy.
“A ground assessment confirmed that three guntrucks with all its occupants were completely destroyed, while the remaining five vehicles, including Abubakar Sarki escaped” the source said.
The source added that the terrorists, however, aborted the mission and evacuated the dead and wounded fighters towards the axis between Pulka and Banki.
The sources said that the troops were mandated to go after the fleeing terrorists and eliminate them completely.
The infighting between the two terrorists groups had intensified with the ISWAP hunting Boko Haram during the day time while the Boko Haram are coordinating reprisal attacks at night because of their knowledge of the terrain.
NDDC Fund, Account For Alleged N700b, Inaugurate Board, Monarch Tasks FG
Barely three days after some ministers resigned, including Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Sen. Godswill Akpabio, the Paramount Ruler of Idjerhe Kingdom of Delta State, King Obukowho Monday Whiskey, yesterday, called for urgent inauguration of the already screened and confirmed board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) just as he called on the Federal Government to the over N700billion he alleged has been allocated to investigate the commission in the last three years.
He said these steps by the government would help resuscitate the agency and rekindle hope of the people whose regional resources, he alleged, were criminally plundered by the leadership of Federal Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs.
In a press statement personally issued by the monarch and made available to journalists in Benin City, Whiskey said, “Having voluntarily resigned as Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, our beloved son, Obong Godswill Obot Akpabio, should come out clean to explain to fellow Niger Deltans the whereabouts of the three years running budgetary allocations of the NDDC which inside sources claimed were more than N700billion.
“For presiding over the ongoing illegality in NDDC, Akpabio is not fit to be president.
“The Federal Government and Akpabio, who held the region perpetually captive and denied her of her developmental agenda because of an inglorious forensic audit that never brought out anything should now explain to our people of our collective regional wealth.
“The father of the nation, Mr. President must have seen now that those he entrusted with the developmental agenda of the oil and gas bearing communities of Nigeria had their own nefarious intentions to swindle and cause more havoc and deny the people their collective dreams of development.
“It is instructive to note, Mr. President, that three options are still available to the Federal Government of Nigeria. The first being the immediate inauguration of the screened and confirmed board of the NDDC under the Chairmanship of Dr. Pius Egberavwe Odubu, and Olorogun Bernard Okumagba as managing director. Secondly, immediate dissolution of the illegally constituted sole administrator that is alien to the NDDC Act 2000, and thirdly, every of the allocation to the NDDC from 2019 to 2022 except for those used for staff salaries and sundry expenses, every other monies of the over N700billion be recovered from whoever were part of the Macabre dance of shame in the past four years.”
The traditional ruler stressed that the inauguration of the already screened and confirmed board would rekindle hope and restore the Federal Government’s integrity before Nigerians and the international community.
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