The Court of Appeal in Abuja has reversed the March 8 judgment by Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja sacking Ebonyi State governor, David Umahi and his deputy for defecting from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Justice Ekwo in March said the move from the PDP to the APC was illegal and unconstitutional. The judgment followed suits marked FHC/ABJ/CS/ 920/21 and FHC/ABJ/CS/ 1041/21, filed by the PDP seeking the removal of the governor and his deputy from office for abandoning the party.
Justice Ekwo said the depositions of the 3rd and 4th defendants (Umahi and Igwe) 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.
“Section 308 is a veritable constitutional shield,” the court said, adding that it was not inserted for political reasons.
However, a three-member panel of the Appeal Court on Friday held that Nigeria’s constitution does not provide any punishment for a governor or deputy governor who defected from the party on which platform he or she got elected to office.
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In the lead judgment, Justice Haruna Tsanami, the appellate court held that the only option opened to a political party, aggrieved by the defection of a governor or deputy governor, is to explore the impeachment option provided in the Nigeria constitution.
The Court of Appeal in Abuja aligned with an earlier decision on the same issue given by the court’s Enugu division.