Court Dismisses Suit Seeking to Remove Umahi As Ebonyi Governor For Joining APC

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A suit seeking to remove Dave Umahi as governor of Ebonyi state for defecting to the All Progressives Congress from the Peoples Democratic Party has been dismissed.
The suit was dismissed by an Abakaliki Division of the Ebonyi State High Court, on Monday.
According to the court, the governor did not flout any provision of the Electoral Act or the constitution to warrant his removal from office.
Umahi had in November 2020, dumped the PDP upon which he was elected two terms and moved over to the APC.
Owing to the development, the plaintiff, Senator Sonni Ogbuoji, approached the court by way of originating summons and prayed the court to hold that the Governor, having defected to APC from the PDP, ought to vacate the office of the Governor upon defection.
It is pertinent to note that Senator Ogbuoji was the APC’s governorship candidate during the 2019 election.
But Governor Umahi, in his defence, argued that the plaintiff was relying on the pre-election/election qualification issues, which ought not to be.
He further argued there was no provision in the constitution that provides for defection as one of the grounds for the vacation or removal of a person as Governor or as Deputy Governor.
He cited certain judicial pronouncements on similar matters, especially at Appellant Courts.
In his judgement, Justice Henry Njoku, noted that the plaintiff did not come through relevant rules of the court to institute the originating summons.
In spite of the irregularities, the judge said the Court decided to entertain the suit in the interest of justice.
The court held that having regard to section 188 (1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, the defendant (Governor Umahi) has not offended any provision of the Constitution or the Electoral Act in his defection to APC.
The Court further held that having regard the governor having regard section 308 of the Constitution is covered by the immunity clause and as such, it was wrong to institute criminal or civil proceedings against the office of the Governor.
The judge, therefore, dismissed in its entirety, the suit filed by the plaintiff for lack of merit.
He also awarded N500, 000.00 as damages against the plaintiff.

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