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Court Sack Of Umahi, Deputy, Lawmakers In Order — Lawyers

Posted by Thandiubani on Wed 09th Mar, 2022 - tori.ng

Lawyers in Nigeria have hailed the judgement of a court sacking the governor of Ebonhyi state, Dave Umahi.

 
 
Nigerian lawyers have hailed the decision of a federal high court in Abuja sacking the governor of Ebonyi state, Dave Umahi.
 
Two lawyers, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Commit­tee Against Corruption (PACAC); Mal­achy Ugwummadu, immediate past president, Campaign for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), and Han­nibal Uwaifo, President of the African Bar, on Tuesday said they agree with the court ruling sacking Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State and his deputy, Kelechi Igwe.
 
According to Independent Nigeria, Sagay, while arguing that the provi­sion that governors should resign after defecting from their political party is not mentioned in the constitution as it only specifically said lawmakers, however, said the principle is a good one as it has been established in the case of Rotimi Amaechi versus Celestine Omehia.
 
He also said Umahi and his deputy can appeal the judg­ment within the stipulated time allowed in the constitu­tion.
 
“That judgment has been established by the Supreme Court in Amaechi’s case. The constitution specifically stated that when an elected member of the National Assembly changes from one party to an­other, he will lose his seat and will have to recontest it, unless there is a split in his party and a faction of it decides to join another party. That is the pro­vision of the constitution. No reference was made to gover­nors.
 
“So, what this judge has done is to extend to governors a provision which is specifi­cally addressed to National Assembly. In my view, there is a little bit of judicial legislation going on here because gover­nors were not mentioned in the constitution even though I don’t know why that was so.
 
“However, the principle that if you are elected on the platform of one party, you shouldn’t change to another party without resigning is a good one. I think it was an unfortunate omission that the governors were not included. But I agree with the judge that the same principle applies, both as a principle of law and morality. But I definitely know there will be an appeal on that ground that there is no specific mention of that in the consti­tution”.
 
Malachy Ugwummadu, im­mediate past president, Cam­paign for the Defence of Hu­man Rights (CDHR), said the judgment is a very interesting and intriguing development.
 
“It seems to have critically taken into account the fact that elections are won in Nigeria on the platforms of political parties. According to section 222 of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria, political parties are the vehicles to access political power and having emerged as a Governorship candidate or dep­uty Governorship candidate, respectively, it is believed that the PDP won the election and it should be in Government in Ebonyi State.
 
“The idea of defecting from that same platform on which he emerged as the Governor cannot be tenable in the sense that you cannot separate your­self from the political party that brought you to power.
 
“This is talking about Gov­ernorship, it is not exactly the situation with members of the legislators both at state and fed­eral level where a legislator can decamp from his political party to yet another if he is unable to justify that the party based on which he came into power has gone into disarray.
 
“There is no such constitu­tional provision in relations to the Governor and the deputy’s positions, but the court reval­idates the position of our law that election into executive po­sitions are formed on basis of political system and you cannot begin to jump from one party to another. This is regardless to what your right to freedom of association says.
 
“Again, section 177(c) of the constitution in relation to this matter also says such a person must be a member of a political party and he must be sponsored by that party. So, at the time he contested he was a member of the PDP, when he defected and jumped into another party, could he still retain his identity as a member of the political party, that is contradic­tory; and now that you are on the other side, which party do you lay claim on? I think it’s to avoid that kind of controversy that the court has come to such conclusion. Like I said, it will continue to be debated because the law did not talk about what happens when a Governor de­fects in such a situation”, he said.
 
President of the African Bar, Mr. Hannibal Uwaifo, said the court has just interpret­ed what the law says on such matter.
 
“You are not supposed to de­fect from a political party that brought you into office, think­ing you can get away from it.”


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