Court sacks 17 Ebonyi lawmakers
A federal high court sitting in Abuja has sacked 17 members of the Ebonyi state house of assembly who defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
David Umahi, the state governor and his deputy, had in November 2020 left the PDP and joined the APC.
Umahi had attributed his defection to the “injustice” done to the south-east.
The lawmakers on November 17, 2020, joined Umahi and Eric Igwe, deputy governor, to move over to the APC.
The court, in its judgment delivered on Tuesday, held that the legislators could not transfer the mandate they received from the ballot to another political party after abandoning the political party that had sponsored them.
Inyang Ekwo, the judge, held that the defendants who were elected into the house of assembly on the platform of the PDP could not justify their defection when there was no division in the PDP.
It held that section 109(1) (g) of the 1999 constitution was purposely created to ensure that defectors were not allowed to retain their seats in the house, unless such defectors are able to justify their action.
The court held that the case PDP brought against them succeeded.
Consequently, Ekwo ordered the lawmakers to vacate their positions with immediate effect.
He restrained them from further parading themselves or acting as members of Ebonyi state assembly.
The court also made an order of mandatory injunction compelling the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to accept from the PDP, a list of its candidates to replace the sacked lawmakers, as well as to issue certificates of return to them.
In the alternative, the court directed INEC to conduct a fresh election in Ebonyi state to fill up the vacant positions within 90 days.