The Forum of State Chairmen of the All Progressives Congress (APC) says that the judgement of the Federal High Court that sacked Gov. Dave Umahi and his deputy, Dr Eric Kelechi-Igwe would not stand in appeal. This is contained in a statement signed by Ali Bukar Dalori, the forum’s chairman and Bornu state chairman of the party and made available to newsmen in Abakaliki on Saturday. The forum said that having carefully studied and digested the court’s judgment on the aforementioned matter, wished to categorically state that the verdict which ordered Umahi and deputy, Kelechi-Igwe to vacate their respective offices were fundamentally flawed.
According to the statement, there is no place in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) that the issue of cross-carperting was stated, stressing that Constitution was clear on procedures and modalities to remove elected public officers in Nigeria. “Something cannot be established on nothing.
The Constitution guarantees freedom of association; belonging to or joining of any lawful assembly such as political party as provided in section 40 of the Constitution. “For now, there’s no provision in the constitution or any extant law that says that governors’ defection from one party to another is unlawful or unconstitutional. “Therefore, the constitution which is the ground norm should be invoked on this matter so that the just will not suffer unduly,” the statement said. The forum which expressed support and solidarity to the governor and his deputy said that the judgement would not stand the acid test of appeal.
The forum which expressed dissatisfaction with the Federal High Court judgement however, urged the entire APC family in Ebonyi to remain focused, undistracted assuring that the Appeal Court would ultimately vindicate the governor. “The forum recalls the fact that once a candidate wins an election as in this situation at hand, the Governor, the person ceases to belong to a particular political party, hence he becomes a leader to all the people occupying that geographical enclave.” This is why the entire members of that society and not just his political party will always hold the individual accountable in his actions and inactions in governance.
“The constitution however stipulates the grounds under which a President, Vice President, governor and deputy governor can vacate their seats.” The provisions are on the account of resignation, impeachment and/or death. “It is however regrettably sad that none of the constitutional provisions suffice in this present case; does it mean that the court now has the power to make law and not to interpret the law as enshrined in the Constitution? It said.
The forum observed that an Abakaliki High Court had earlier in February 28 adjudicated on the matter of defection and rulled in favour of Umahi. “The law made it expressly clear that Federal and State High Courts are courts of coordinate or concurrent jurisdiction. “Based on the foregoing, the Federal High Court does not have the locus to adjudicate on a matter earlier addressed by a High Court domicile in Abakaliki, which judgement was delivered on the February 28 on the same matter of defection.
“The Federal High Court lacks jurisdiction to adjudicate on this matter. In the eyes of the law, it is only an appellate court that has the jurisdiction to set aside the judgement of the High Court delivered on February 28, 2022,” the statement added. Justice Iyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja on March 8 sacked Umahi and his deputy alongside 16 lawmakers of the Ebonyi State House of Assemby following their defections from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to APC.