A federal high court in Abuja has ordered the removal of David Umahi and Eric Kelechi Igwe, as governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi state, following their defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In the judgment delivered on Monday, Inyang Ekwo, the judge, held that the 393,042 votes polled by Umahi in the March 9, 2019 governorship election belonged to the PDP and cannot be legally transferred to the APC.
Umahi left the PDP in November 2020 attributing the action to the “injustice” done to the south-east.
Consequently, the PDP instituted a suit against the governor, his deputy, the APC and INEC.Advertisement
The PDP asked the court to make a declaration that by defecting from the party on which they were sponsored and elected as governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi state, they have resigned or deemed to have resigned from office.
In the judgment, the court held that having defected to the APC, both Umahi and his deputy, not only dumped 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, “belongs to the plaintiff and no other political party”.Advertisement
“There is no constitutional provision that made the ballot transferrable from one party to the other,” Ekwo held.
The judge held that the PDP is bound to retain the votes and mandate that was given to it by the electorate in Ebonyi state, as both the governor and his deputy cannot validly transfer the same to the APC.
The court ordered Umahi and Igwe to immediately vacate their positions.
Ekwo ordered 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.Advertisement
The court restrained Umahi and Igwe from further parading themselves as governor and deputy governor of Ebonyi state.