Court Dismisses Suit Against Umahi, Awards N500,000 As damages

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The State High Court sitting in Abakaliki has dismissed a suit challenging the defection of Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The Plaintiffs in the matter were Senator Sonni Ogbuoji and the APC Governorship candidate in the 2019 general election, his Deputy, Architect Mbam Ogodo, as well as the APC as a Party.

Delivering his judgment, the presiding Judge, Honourable Justice Henry Njoku, stated that the plaintiff came by originating summons seeking the court to hold that the defendant, Governor Umahi, having defected to APC from the PDP, the party under which he was elected ought to vacate the office of the Governor upon defection.

Justice Njoku added that the plaintiff having come second in the 2019 election, demanded to be sworn in accordingly.

In his defence, Dr Umahi argued that the plaintiff was relying on the pre-election/election qualification issues, adding that there is 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 deputy governor of a state.

Having considered the submissions of both parties, the presiding judge held that “with regards 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.”

According to Justice Njoku, section 308 of the Constitution, infers that it is wrong to institute criminal or civil proceedings against the office of the governor.

The court dismissed the case in its entirety, for lacking in merit, and Five Hundred Thousand Naira (N500, 000.00) was awarded against the plaintiff for damages.