In what may be the solution to defection of elected public officers in Nigeria, the Federal High Court, Abuja, today March 8, 2022, sacked Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State and his Deputy, Dr Eric Kelechi Igwe, following their defection from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC.
The court, in a judgement that was delivered by Justice Inyang Ekwo, held that the total number of 393, 042 votes governor Umahi secured during the March 9, 2019 governorship election in Ebonyi state, belonged to the PDP and same 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 political party.”
“There is no constitutional provision that made the ballot transferrable from one party to the other”.
It held 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 a fresh gubernatorial election in Ebonyi state in line with section 177(c) of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
The court further restrained both Umahi and Igwe from further parading themselves as governor or deputy governor of Ebonyi state.
The judgement followed a suit the PDP lodged before the court.