By Akinwande Soji-Ojo
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday, sacked Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, and his deputy, Dr Kelechi Igwe, for their defection from the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) to the All Progressive Congress (APC).
Delivering judgement in a suit filed by the PDP, by Justice Inyang Ekwo, held that the total number of 393,042 votes Umahi secured during the March 9, 2019, Ebonyi State governorship election, belonged to the PDP, hence could not be legally transferred to the APC.
According to the court, having defected to the APC, both Umahi and his deputy, not only jettisoned the PDP, but also the votes that belonged to it.
It held that going by the outcome of the governorship election, the office of the governor and deputy governor in Ebonyi state, “belong to the plaintiff and no other politcal party.”
“There is no constitutional provision that made the ballot transferrable from one party t the other,” Justice Ekwo held.
He said that the PDP is bound to retain the votes and mandate that was given to it by electorates in Ebonyi State, as both governor Umahi and his Deputy could not validly transfer same to APC.
The court, therefore,ordered both Umahi and Igwe to immediately vacate their positions.
It ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to immediately receive from the PDP, names of persons to replace Umahi and his deputy, or in the alternative, conduct fresh governorship election in Ebonyi state in line with section 177(c) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
The court also restrained both Umahi and Igwe from further parading themselves as governor or deputy governor of Ebonyi State.
In the same vein, Justice Ekwo ordered the 16 lawmakers in the state House of Assembly to vacate their seats after they followed the governor to the APC from the PDP.
The judge ordered the lawmakers to stop parading themselves as representatives of the people after dumping the party on which platform they were elected into the House of Assembly.
Justice Ekwo had on January 19 fixed March 8 to deliver the judgment in the suit filed by the PDP against the governor, his deputy and members of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly.